first-year law review

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When a person dies intestate that person dies without a will. Further, if a will’s so poorly drafted that it disposes of only part of the probate estate, the result is partial intestacy. When a person dies intestate, the law of the state where decedent was domiciled at death governs the disposition of personal property, and where the real property is located governs the disposition of real property.


If there’s a surviving spouse, that person is always the first taker, and usually receives the largest share. The order of intestacy is as follows: Spouse, Descendants, Parents, Descendants of decedent’s parents, and finally Grandparents or descendants of grandparents. Each state has a statute that governs what goes where. Under the Uniform Probate Code, the spouse gets everything if no descendant or parent of decedent survives, or all descendants are also descendants of the surviving spouse. If there’s no descendant, but a parent survives, the spouse gets the first $200,000 plus three-fourths of the balance of the estate. If there are descendants and surviving spouse had descendants who aren’t from decedent, the spouse gets $150,000 and half of the balance of the estate. If surviving decedents aren’t descendants of the surviving spouse, the spouse gets $100,000 and half of the estate’s balance. Naturally nonprobate property is excluded from the estate prior to these figures. If there’s no taker, estate goes to the state.


In the case of simultaneous death, the Uniform Simultaneous Death Act says that if no sufficient evidence of the order of deaths, the beneficiary is deemed to have predeceased the donor. If joint tenants die simultaneously, one half is distributed as if A survived, and one half as if B survived.


September 10, 2007 - Posted by | Wills & Estates

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