Importance of Intestate Laws
Intestate law is applicable when a person dies without leaving behind a will for inheritance of property. 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 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. If the deceased did not have any kid, the spouse inherits the whole of the estate with the exclusion of relatives. The spouse is only entitled to the inheritance of the deceased if he/she was legally married to the deceased. There are a few jurisdictions where common law marriage which states that if you stay with your partner for a particular period of time you become spouses.
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. The spouse is given his/her share and the remaining share is equally subdivided among all 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. It is the responsibility of the probate court to select the guardian who will take care of the children of the deceased.
Thirdly, on the intestate hierarchy are parents and siblings of the deceased. In case there is no recognized spouse, children or grandchildren, parents, and sibling are considered to be suitable property inheritors. 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.
However, if the above people are absent, then distant relatives are considered the right inheritors. Distant relatives include cousins, grandparents, aunts and uncles who may share the property equally among themselves.