What on earth is intestate? If you die without a will, this is known as dying intestate. The laws of intestacy are then used to determine who gets what.
Intestacy law is the body of law that determines who is entitled to the property from the estate under the rules of inheritance. In the United States, these laws vary from state to state. The laws specify who can be considered legal heirs, and the priority order in which heirs receive the estate. These laws basically create a will if the person died without one.
Here is an example of California’s law: Probate section 6400
6401. (a) As to community property, the intestate share of the surviving spouse is the one-half of the community property that belongs to the decedent under Section 100. (b) As to quasi-community property, the intestate share of the surviving spouse is the one-half of the quasi-community property that belongs to the decedent under Section 101. (c) As to separate property, the intestate share of the surviving spouse or surviving domestic partner, as defined in subdivision (b) of Section 37, is as follows: (1) The entire intestate estate if the decedent did not leave any surviving issue, parent, brother, sister, or issue of a deceased brother or sister. (2) One-half of the intestate estate in the following cases: (A) Where the decedent leaves only one child or the issue of one deceased child. (B) Where the decedent leaves no issue but leaves a parent or parents or their issue or the issue of either of them. (3) One-third of the intestate estate in the following cases: (A) Where the decedent leaves more than one child. (B) Where the decedent leaves one child and the issue of one or more deceased children. (C) Where the decedent leaves issue of two or more deceased children.
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