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. 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. 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 relationship between the deceased and the people to inherit the deceased’s property is defined by the intestate law. 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. 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. The first inheritance of a spouse is an estate which was owned by the deceased. In the case where no child was left behind, the spouse is entitled to inherit the whole estate without caring if there are other relatives left behind. It is important to understand that cohabitation partner and the common law marriage does not entitle a spouse to inheritance law. Some parts of the world recognize common law marriage as legal.
The second on the intestate hierarchy are children of the deceased. 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. 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. 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.
Parents and siblings of the deceased are third on the intestate hierarchy. In case there is no recognized spouse, children or grandchildren, parents, and sibling are considered to be suitable property inheritors. 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.
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.