Senior America's Information Magazine


Dying Intestate

Dying without a will

What happens if you die without a Will while you are:

1. Married with children: Many people falsely believe that the surviving spouse/parent would take all the deceased spouse's property, especially if the children are young. That is not the case. In this situation, the law of most states awards one-third to one-half of the decedent's property to the surviving spouse, and the remainder to the children, regardless of age.

2. Married with no children: Again, there is a popular misconception that the intestate decedent's surviving spouse would take all. Most states, however, give only one-third to one-half of the estate to the survivor. The remainder generally goes to the decedent's parent(s), if alive. If both parents are dead, many states split the remainder among the decedent's brothers and sisters.

3. Single person with children: When a single person with children dies without a Will, state laws uniformly provide that the entire estate goes to the children.

4. Single person with no children: In this situation, again, most state laws favor the decedent's parent(s) in the distribution of his/her property. If both parents are deceased, many states divide the property among the brothers and sisters.


<<More on wills

Disclaimer:  These pages are created to inform and educate the public only.  They are not and should not be considered legal opinions or advice.  You do not and cannot have any client-attorney relationship with SeniorMag or any of its employees.  You should not act upon legal advice found on SeniorMag and are advised to seek professional counsel before taking any action based upon information found on this site. 



Our Sponsors

Find an attorney that is right for you

List your firm

Visit to find Meals on Wheels & Congregate Meal 
sites for seniors


 Structured Settlements






Assisted Living  | Home Care/Homecare  | Elder Law  | Canadian Pharmacies