If someone dies without a Will, who inherits from them?

UPDATED: Jan 1, 2012

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If someone dies without a Will, who inherits from them?

My mother passed away and did not leave a Will. I am my mother only living child. My sister passed away prior to my mother’s death; she had 3 grown children. Can I sell the home without them?

Asked on January 1, 2012 under Estate Planning, Texas


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

If your mother died without a Will then she is said to have died "intestate". This means that the laws of the state in which she was domiciled as of the date of her death will control.

The general rule is that if there is no surviving spouse, the children of the deceased will inherit. If 1 of the deceased's children dies before them, then their children will inherit their parent's share. In other words, if you and your sister were your mother's only children, you would each be entitled to 1/2 of her estate. However, since your sister is dead, her share will be divided equally among her children. So, you will receive 1/2 of the estate and your nieces/nephews will divide you sister's 1/2 share (that means her children each get 1/3 of her share).

Bottom line, typically all heirs (you and your sister's children) need to consent to the sale of estate property.

Since intestacy laws vary state-to-state, you should to speak directly with a probate attorney in your area, or at least contact the Probate Court in the county in which your mother died (they may be able to provide you with help or at least direct you to someone who can).

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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