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How intestate succession can affect an estate

On Behalf of | Mar 8, 2018 | Probate |

Death is not always an easy topic to discuss. Though an estate plan can be beneficial to virtually anyone, some parties do not see the full value in it.

If you are considering an estate plan, it is important to understand the important aspects of it, such as the will. Without a proper will in place, intestate succession will generally apply to the estate, which has its own unique applications.


Intestate succession laws come into play when there is no will in place. These laws direct where assets go in the absence of a will. They are aimed at ensuring the assets of an estate holder go to the closest relative. This often includes immediate family members, such as:

  • Spouse
  • Children
  • Parents
  • Siblings

In regard to an estate, half-siblings become “whole” siblings, and therefore may inherit the estate. If an estate holder’s immediate family is not living, it would then go to extended family. For any of these parties to have the assets transferred to them, they must outlive the deceased by at least 120 hours.

Specific assets

If a will would not usually include certain items, the intestate laws might not apply to them. In other words, intestate laws govern assets that are solely the property of the estate holder. Those assets that an estate holder co-owns or denotes a beneficiary for would generally instead transfer to those parties.

Special provisions

There are a few special provisions under the intestate laws. For example, family members who are not U.S. citizens may still receive an inheritance. Also, as long as a relative is conceived before the death of an estate holder and outlives the person by 120 hours, the newborn relative may receive the estate. The law goes to great lengths to try to make sure that family members will receive the estate, but if the courts cannot find them, the state may receive the property.

This is a brief overview of intestate succession, but it can get quite complex. To avoid having an estate go through such a process, a proper estate plan can be a simple solution.