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.


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.

  1. Probate

    The legal process in which a will is reviewed to determine whether ...
  2. Escheat

    The transfer of title of property or an estate to the state when ...
  3. Asset

    1. A resource with economic value that an individual, corporation ...
  4. Beneficiary

    Anybody who gains an advantage and/or profits from something. ...
  5. Will

    A legally enforceable declaration of how a person wishes his ...
  6. Letter of Intent - LOI

    A document outlining the terms of an agreement before it is finalized. ...
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  1. If both the primary and contingent beneficiaries are unavailable, what happens to ...

    One of the most common mistakes in estate planning is not keeping beneficiary designations up to date on life insurance policies ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Can I put my IRA in a trust?

    You cannot put your IRA in a trust while you are living. You can, however, name a trust as the beneficiary of your IRA and ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. How does the trust maker transfer funds into a revocable trust?

    Once a revocable trust is created, a trust maker transfers funds or property into the trust by including them in a list with ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. What is the difference between a revocable trust and a living trust?

    A revocable trust and living trust are separate terms that describe the same thing: a trust in which the terms can be changed ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. How exactly does one go about revoking a revocable trust?

    The basic steps involved in revoking a revocable trust are fairly simple, and include transfer of assets and an official ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What is the difference between a revocable trust and an irrevocable trust?

    An irrevocable trust and a revocable trust are differentiated through the ability to change the trust. With an irrevocable ... Read Full Answer >>

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