What Does it Mean to Die Intestate?
To die intestate means a person dies without a will. A person may die intestate if they do not create a will, or if the will they created is invalid. Further, a person may die completely intestate or incompletely intestate.
When intestacy occurs, a deceased’s estate is distributed according to the laws of intestacy, which are generally Part 3 of the Wills and Succession Act. Where a person dies incompletely intestate, only some of their assets may be distributed in accordance with the intestacy provisions of the Wills and Succession Act.
Intestacy laws serve the important purpose of dividing up property after a person dies. This means that the deceased has no control over who their assets go to. Intestacy is likely best to be avoided.
Who a deceased’s estate is distributed is factually dependent, and generally depends on the relation of those who are alive to the deceased. Provisions within the Wills and Succession Act essentially serve to distribute assets to spouses and adult interdependent partners, and then the descendants of the deceased.
First, the intestacy provisions prioritize distributing assets to a surviving spouse or adult interdependent partner. If a person dies without a surviving spouse or adult interdependent partner, then the deceased estate is to be distributed to their descendants. Amongst descendants, the intestacy provisions prioritize distributing assets downwards first to surviving children and deceased children. If the deceased died without any surviving children or deceased children, (or a spouse or an adult interdependent partner), then the deceased’s estate is to be distributed upwards to surviving parents.
If you would like to make a will or have questions regarding your current will, contact one of the estate lawyers at Kantor LLP. We are happy to be of assistance.