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Why Intestate Law is Important in Inheritance Procedure

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. Therefore when someone dies when he/she had not prepared a will of how the property will be divided into his/her closest people, then that person is said to die 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 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. These tools are necessary when the number of people entitled to inheritance is huge. Below is how the hierarchy is followed.

Spouse of the deceased is the first priority when the distribution of the property of the deceased is done and he/she is entitled to at least inherit an estate. 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. Intestate law clearly defines that the legitimate spouse is the one who wed with the deceased and has a certificate of marriage. It is possible to find some jurisdictions where common law marriage is legal.

Children are the second on the intestate hierarchy. 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. 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. It is the responsibility of the probate court to select the guardian who will take care of the children of the deceased.

The third on the intestate hierarchy are parents and siblings of the deceased person. 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.

In case there is no record of the children, spouse, parents, sibling, then distant relatives automatically become the legal inheritors of the deceased’s property. Distant relatives include cousins, grandparents, aunts and uncles who may share the property equally among themselves.