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The Divorce Encyclopedia
Intestate; Laws of Intestacy


Term Definition Intestate; Laws of Intestacy - said of a person who dies without a will.
Application in Divorce Death is not optional, but many people act as if it is, because they do not write wills. When a person dies without a last will, his property is divided under the laws intestate succession of his state of residence. This can slow the distribution of property to heirs.

The laws of intestate succession -- the law of intestacy, as it is called -- vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. These laws generally favor the spouse, children and grandchildren and then parents and grandparents, then brothers and sisters.

A surviving spouse generally inherits at least one third; surviving children generally divide the remainder. If there are no children, the entire estate generally passes to the surviving spouse.

The estates of divorcing couples who die without a will are governed by the law of intestacy.

See also Dower; Curtesy.

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