If my aunt died with no Will, how will her estate be divided?

She never married and had no children. Both of her parents, as well as her 2 siblings (my mother was 1), are deceased. I have 1 living sister, 1 living brother and 1 deceased brother (his wife and 2 children living). My father is still living (my aunt’s BIL) There is money left from her estate. How is it divided among living relatives? Would my father who isn’t blood relative receive a portion? Would my deceased brother receive a portion?

Asked on July 8, 2014 under Estate Planning, Kentucky


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

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

When someone dies without a Will they are said to have died "intestate". In this event the intestacy or "succession" laws of the state in which the deceased was domiciled as of the date of their death will control. In a situation such as you have here (i.e. no survivng spouse/children/parents), your aunt's estate would typically be divided among her siblings and other blood relatives. Consequently, your father and your late brother's wife would not be considered to be legal heirs. As for your aunt's deceased siblings (i.e. your mom and late uncle), intestacy laws often provide that if a sibling has predeceased their brother or sister, then that sibling's children (or grandchildren) inherit their parent's (grandparent's) share. In other words, they take the place of their deceased parent (or grandparent). Accordingly, you and your living siblings would inherit, as well as your deceased brother's children.

That all having been said, figuring out exactly who is a legal heir can be complicated depending on applicable state law. Accordingly, you should consult with a local attorney, or at least google "intestate succession" for the state in question to get further information.

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