Intestacy occurs when someone dies without a will. In this instance, the individual’s property will be distributed according to state law. Also, if the person had minor children and did not prepare a designation of preneed guardian for his or her children, choice of a guardian will also be according to state law.
The laws of intestacy act as follows:
- If all children are from the current marriage, the surviving spouse will inherit the entire estate;
- If the deceased spouse has children from a previous marriage or relationship, the estate will be equally divided between the surviving spouse and the children;
- If there is no surviving spouse, the children will inherit the entire estate. Adult children will inherit their share outright, while minor children’s shares will be administered by their guardian;
- If the surviving spouse does not have an ownership interest in the homestead, the surviving spouse will have the right to the house during their lifetime and the children will attain it upon the death of the surviving spouse. The surviving spouse also has the right to elect to take a 50% interest in the homestead instead of a life estate with the other half going to the children; and
- If there is no surviving spouse or children, the estate goes to the decedent’s parents and if there are no surviving parents to the decedent’s siblings.