Importance of Intestate Laws
When a family member dies without a will, it is important to apply the intestacy laws. Intestacy is defined as the law that defines the rules of distributing the property of a deceased who did not leave a will for his/her property. Intestate is a person who dies before preparing the will that indicates how his/her property should be shared to his/her closest people who are left behind. Therefore in order to fairly divide the left behind property, intestate law is applied which indicates the hierarchy of people who should inherit the property. The intestate lists and the people who are entitled to inherit the property and at the same time defines how these people are related to the deceased. Per capita and per stripe are some of the tools that are employed during the division of the property of the deceased to the large numerous relatives. These tools are necessary when the number of people entitled to inheritance is huge. The following are some of the hierarchy outlined by intestate law.
On top of the hierarchy is the spouse who is entitled to inherit an estate that is left behind by the deceased. It is important to note that if the deceased had an estate, the spouse is the right person to inherit it. When there is no child in question, the estate of the deceased is entirely inherited by the spouse. Intestate law clearly defines that the legitimate spouse is the one who wed with the deceased and has a certificate of marriage. More about common law marriage click here.
The second on the intestate hierarchy are children of the deceased. In cases where there is no existing spouse, the estate is subdivided equally to all children. In case there is a spouse, the rules changes. The spouse is given a particular percentage of the estate depending on the size and the remaining is equally shared among the children. It is important to know that deceased adopted children are taken as the biological children. According to the intestate law, children are not supposed to inherit the debt of their deceased parent and therefore the assets inherited by the children cannot be used to settle the debts. In cases where a parent die intestate, the probate court takes the responsibility of choosing the right guardian for the small children.
Thirdly, on the intestate hierarchy are parents and siblings of the deceased. This hierarchy is arrived at if deceased did not leave behind children, spouse or grandchildren. On this level of the hierarchy, parents are given the first priority and if the parents are not around, siblings are then picked to be inheritors.
The third on the intestate hierarchy are distant relatives and this happens only if the deceased do not have an existing spouse, children, siblings or any descendant. Distant relatives include cousins, grandparents, aunts and uncles who may share the property equally among themselves.