If you die without a will, state law will determine how your property will be distributed. This is called “intestate succession.” Any property you have will be distributed to your wife and children. If you have no wife or children, then your property will be distributed to your other relatives according to a statutory formula. Only if you have no relatives will your property go to the state. Moreover, the court will choose the person (Administrator) who will be responsible for dealing with your affairs. This person might not be the ideal person for the job.
If you die without a will and you are:
Married With Children. Your surviving spouse will NOT get all of your property, especially if you have children. For example, if you have 2 minor children, then your spouse will get 1/3 and the remainder will go to the children, regardless of age.
Married Without Children. If you are married and have no children when you die, then your spouse is only entitled to receive ½ of your separate property. The other ½ will generally go to the deceased spouse’s parents, if alive. If not, the remainder will go to the decedent’s siblings.
Single Person with Children. If a single person dies without a will, then the entire estate will go to the children.
Single Person With no Children. In this case, the estate will go to the parent(s). If both parents are deceased, then the estate will be divided among the brothers and sisters.