Intestate succession refers to the process of distributing a decedent’s estate when the decedent does not have a will. As our readers are aware, a will is an important testamentary document that provides guidance on how the assets and property of a person’s end-of-life estate should be distributed once they have passed on. While a will gives a person control to make important decisions about their wealth and property, the absence of one give these powers to the state.

A person who dies without a will generally has their estate assets pass to their spouse and children. Their spouse will take $50,000 of the estate plus half of the remainder, and the decedent’s children will take the other half. If a person dies without a spouse, their children will take their whole estate and, if they die without kids, their spouse will take their whole estate.

Things become more complicated when a person dies without kids or a spouse. Next in line will be their parents, and if they have no parents living then the decedent’s estate may pass to their siblings. Intestate succession generally climbs up the family tree and down the nearest branches to give decedents’ estates to their most closely-related relatives.

While some of our readers may find comfort in knowing the laws of the state will still benefit their loved ones if they die without wills, individuals can exert much more control when they plan for how to distribute their own property and wealth. To avoid having one’s estate distributed by intestate succession, a reader can get more information about estate planning options.