DEFINITION of 'Intestacy'
The condition of an estate of an individual who dies with property valued greater than outstanding debts, but in which there is not a valid will present. Intestacy may also exist if an existing will does not cover an entire estate. In common law systems, property of an estate in intestacy will typically first go to a spouse, then to children and descendants.
BREAKING DOWN 'Intestacy'
Rules governing the succession of an estate in intestacy are typically laid out by the state in which the deceased lived, and may vary across the United States. Because of the complexity of this type of estate law, called intestacy law, individuals who want to determine who receives property from an estate, should ensure that they complete a will.