Intestate Succession

As stated in another post, do die without a valid will is to die intestate. To die intestate means that the laws of the jurisdiction will statutorily dictate how a decedent’s assets will be distributed. Though jurisdictions vary regarding how succession takes place, some common rules of succession are as follows:

If a decedent dies without spouse or descendants, the estate goes to the decedent’s parents 50/50 or completely to one parent if only one is then living;

If decedent dies without spouse, descendants, or parents, the estate passes to the decedent’s siblings or the sibling’s children;

If decedent also has no siblings, the estate is split 50/50 between the decedent’s maternal and paternal grandparents or their descendents (the decedent’s aunts or uncles);

Some jurisdictions allow for a “nearest of kin” succession if the decedent has no immediate relatives. The estate is split 50/50 with a paternal nearest of kin receiving one half and a maternal equivalent the remaining half;

If the decedent has no capable relative to receive the estate, it is given to the state in a process called escheat.


Image by: Mr. T. in D.C.