What happens when a spouse dies without a Will vs. with a Will?

All assets are in both names.

Asked on July 29, 2015 under Estate Planning, Kentucky


S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

When a spouse dies without a Will, the rules of intestate succession determine inheritance.  Intestate means dying without a Will.

Under intestate succession, the surviving spouse inherits the entire estate of the deceased spouse.

If there isn't a surviving spouse, the children inherit equal shares of the estate.  For example, if there were three surviving children, each child inherits 1/3.  If there are any deceased children who have surviving children (the spouse's grandchildren), those grandchildren inherit the share of the spouse's estate their deceased parent would have inherited had the deceased parent survived.

If a spouse dies with a Will, the provisions of the Will are controlling in determining inheritance. 

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