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 law oversees and governs the division the property he/she has left behind. 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. 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 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 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. 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. More about common law marriage click here.
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. 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.
Thirdly, on the intestate hierarchy are parents and siblings of the deceased. 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.
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.