When a person dies without leaving behind a will, this means that their estate will have to go through a process called intestacy. The same process is also applicable if a will is invalidated. Partial intestacy is also applicable if the deceased didn't pass on all their assets.
In the process of intestacy, it's the laws of your state that will decide how your property is going to be distributed. If there is real estate located in another state, the laws of the state where the property is located will be used.
No Spouse or Children
If at the time of your passing you were not married and you didn't have any children either, your property will be passed on to your parents, assuming they're both alive. If only one parent is still alive, the property will be divided between them and your siblings. In case both your parents are not alive, your siblings will share your estate in equal parts. However, where there are no parents, siblings, nephews, or nieces in the picture, half the estate goes to relatives on your father's side and the other half goes to relatives on your mother's side.
You Had Children but No Spouse
In this case, your estate will be divided equally among your children. If one child passed on but left behind their own children, their share will be passed on to their children (i.e. your grandchildren).
You Had a Spouse but No Children
If your entire estate was classified as marital property, all your assets will go to your spouse. However, any separate property you had will be divided between your spouse, your parents, and your siblings.
Married with Kids
Assuming all the kids are those you had with your surviving spouse, your estate will go to the surviving spouse. However, if any of the children are from a previous partner, your current spouse can only get up to one-half of your estate. The other part is passed on to the children of your former partner.
Unmarried Couples and Domestic Partners
If you had a spouse that you lived with but were not married to, the intestacy process can be very unfair to them. The process only recognizes relatives in such cases. In states where domestic partners are recognized, they have the same claim as a married spouse. Hire a local estate litigation attorney today to learn more about the process.