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Why Intestate Law is Important in Inheritance Procedure

It is important to understand that when a person dies intestate, the intestate law is used to find the appropriate inheritors of the deceased property. The intestacy law is used as a guideline of property distribution of the deceased. 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 hierarchy is followed according to the relationship of the deceased with the people who stand to inherit the property. 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 only time the per capita and the per stripe tools are used is when the property is divided to many people who are entitled to inheritance. 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. A spouse can get a piece of estate or inherit the whole estate depending on whether the deceased left behind children. When there is no child in question, the estate of the deceased is entirely inherited by the spouse. The spouse is only entitled to the inheritance of the deceased if he/she was legally married to the deceased. It is possible to find some jurisdictions where common law marriage is legal.

Children follow the spouse on the hierarchy of the intestate law. The piece of an estate left behind is usually divided equally among the existing children of the deceased if there is no spouse left behind. The case is different if there is an existing spouse. Depending on the size of the estate, a spouse is given a certain percentage of the estate and the remaining percentage distributed equally to all the children. The adopted children are also given equal share because they are considered as the biological children of the deceased. 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. It is the responsibility of the probate court to select the guardian who will take care of the children of the deceased.

Parents and siblings of the deceased are third on the intestate hierarchy. If there is no record of children, spouse or grandchildren, the close people who can inherit the property of a deceased are parents and siblings of the deceased. The property is handed over to the deceased’s parents and if there are no existing parents, then the property is equally divided among the siblings.

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. Cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents are some of the distant relatives.