Probating an Estate Where There is No Will

What happens to my property if I do not write a will?

If someone dies without writing a will have died intestate. Each state has specific laws governing the distribution of property when a person dies intestate and most laws are generally the same. Laws of Alabama are shown below, but you should remember that these laws may not apply if the deceased was not a resident of Alabama, or if the property is located in another state. In this list “issue” means all the people who have descended from the decedent. This includes children (both natural and adopted), grandchildren, and so on.

Property going to the surviving spouse:

entire state if no surviving issue for parents of the decedent;

first $100,000, plus one half of the balance of the estate if there’s no surviving issue but there is surviving parents;

First $50,000 plus one half of the balance of the estate if there are surviving issue all of whom are also issue of the surviving spouse or

one half of the estate if there are surviving issue who are not issue of the surviving spouse.

Property not going to the surviving spouse:

If there is no surviving spouse, whether his property left after the spouse receives his or her share, it passes under the following priority: all the property passes to the issue, unless there are none. If none, all passes to the parents. If neither parent is living the estate passes to siblings and so on under this priority.

  1. Issue
  2. parents
  3. brothers and sisters
  4. grandparents
  5. aunts and uncles
  6. cousins