Intestacy Law & Legal Definition


Intestacy is the condition of having died without a valid will. The person dies without making a will and leaving behind property greater than the total amount of funeral expenses and enforceable debts. The law dealing with intestacy is known as the intestacy law, the law of descent and distribution or intestate succession statutes. It refers to the body of law that determines who is entitled to the property from the estate under the rules of inheritance. In such a case if the dead person has property it will be distributed according to law of descent and distribution. Since there is no executor named in the will, the estate is administered legally by a close relative, spouse or a public administrator. Administrator is chosen by the court having jurisdiction over the decedent's property, and is normally a person nominated by a majority of the decedent's heirs. Intestacy law varies from state to state.

An example of a state(Alabama) intestacy statute is as follows:

Va. Code Ann. § 64.1-1 reads in part:

When any person having title to any real estate of inheritance shall die intestate as to such estate, it shall descend and pass in parcenary to such of his kindred, male and female, in the following course:

1 To the surviving spouse of the intestate, unless the intestate is survived by children or their descendants, one or more of whom are not children or their descendants of the surviving spouse, in which case two-thirds of such estate shall pass to all the intestate's children and their descendants and the remaining one-third of such estate shall pass to the intestate's surviving spouse.

2. If there be no surviving spouse, then the whole shall go to all the intestate's children and their descendants.

3 If there be none such, then to his or her father and mother or the survivor.

4. If there be none such, then to his or her brothers and sisters, and their descendants.

5 If there be none such, then one moiety shall go to the paternal, the other to the maternal kindred, of the intestate, in the following course:

6 First to the grandfather and grandmother or the survivor.