Probate Basics: What Happens if I Die Without a Will?

A person who dies without a will, dies “intestate.” When you die intestate, your probate estate will pass according the state laws of descent and distribution. In Kentucky, this is Kentucky Revised Statutes Chapter 391.

So, who get’s the stuff?

1. Spouse

If there is a surviving spouse, no matter how long they have been married, that spouse is entitled to the first $15,000 of the estate. The spouse has additional rights as well; generally he or she then receives one-half of the estate.

(If the decedent has no children, no living parents, and no siblings, the spouse receives everything.)

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2. Children

If the decedent had children, the remaining assets are split between them. This is true even if the spouse is the parent of the children or if there are minor children. If there was no spouse, all of the assets are split between the children.

3. Others

If the decedent had no children, the remaining assets go to the parents or remaining living parent. (If there is no spouse, all to the parent or parents.)

If there are no living parents, then to the siblings of the decedent. If the decedent has no children, no living parents, and no siblings, the spouse receives everything.

If there is no spouse, no children, no living parents, and no siblings, the estate is becomes more complicated; it is divided into two and one half passes to the maternal relations and one to the paternal.

For a visual representation, consult our Intestacy Flow-Chart.

Every person’s situation is different and there are exceptions to some of the intestacy rules. Please consult an experienced probate attorney with your questions. Read more about our probate services here.

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