By Jason Brower
Question: “Is it true that the state gets everything if I die without a Will?”
Four basic scenarios illustrate the division of separate property upon someone’s death. In the first and most common scenario, a person dies with a spouse and children. In such case, the surviving spouse takes one-third of the personal property, (non land assets) and the remaining two-thirds of the personal property is divided equally among the child or children of the deceased. The surviving spouse of the decedent is also entitled to possession for life, of one-third of the land of the deceased, with that one-third going to the children or descendants upon that surviving spouses death.
In the second common scenario, someone dies without a spouse but is survived by each of the children born to him or her during life. In that scenario, all of the property is divided equally between the children. This scenario results in the easiest division of the decedent’s property.
In the third scenario, someone dies leaving a surviving spouse but does not leave any children or descendants. There, the spouse is entitled to all of the personal property and to one-half of the land of the Estate. The other half of the land would go to the father and mother of the deceased in equal portions. If only one parent survived the deceased, then that share of the land would be divided into two equal portions, one passing to the surviving parent, and the other passing to the siblings of the deceased. If there were no siblings, the entire share would pass to the parent. If no parent survived the deceased, and there were siblings, the entire share would pass to the siblings.
In the next installment, we will discuss the most complex scenario, what happens when a person dies without a spouse and without children.