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Importance of Intestate Laws

When a family member dies without a will, it is important to apply the intestacy laws. The intestacy law is used as a guideline of property distribution of the deceased. Therefore it is correct to say that a person who dies without leaving behind the will of distribution of his/her property the deceased died intestate. Intestate law outlines in order the hierarchy of the group of people who were close to the deceased and how the property will be distributed to them. 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. In order to sure that the property of the deceased is fairly shared to a large number of relatives, the per capita tool and the per stripe tools are used in property division. The tools are especially used when the number of descendants is large. Below is how the hierarchy is followed.

The first on the hierarchy is the spouse of the deceased who has the right to get a share of the estate if not all of it. The first inheritance of a spouse is an estate which was owned by the deceased. If the deceased did not have any kid, the spouse inherits the whole of the estate with the exclusion of relatives. It is important to understand that cohabitation partner and the common law marriage does not entitle a spouse to inheritance law. It is possible to find some jurisdictions where common law marriage is legal.

The second on the intestate hierarchy are children of the deceased. Estate left behind by the deceased is distributed in equal portion to all the children in case there is no spouse. In case there is a spouse, the distribution 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. The adopted children are also given equal share because they are considered as the biological children of the deceased. The assets inherited by the children of the deceased can never be used to settle the debts of the deceased because children do not inherit their parent’s debts. In cases where a parent die intestate, the probate court takes the responsibility of choosing the right guardian for the small children.

Parents and siblings of the deceased are third on the intestate hierarchy. This hierarchy is arrived at if deceased did not leave behind children, spouse or grandchildren. Under this bracket, parents are considered first and if there are no parents, automatically the siblings become the inheritors.

However, if the above people are absent, then distant relatives are considered the right inheritors. Here are the list of is made up of distant relatives; uncles, aunts, cousins, and grandparents.

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