How is an estate distributed if there is no Will?

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How is an estate distributed if there is no Will?

My sister and brother-in-law have passed. The only remaining relatives are myself, my other sister and my children. According to VA law, the course of descents are generally, “Fourth. If there be none such, then to his or her brothers and sisters, and their descendants” Does that mean the estate is shared 6 ways equally?

Asked on July 6, 2011 under Estate Planning, Virginia

Answers:

MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

When there is no will, the first thing to look at is whether there are assets (monetary and otherwise) that would pass without probate. These would include homes that are owned in joint tenancy (with or without rights of survivorship). Bank accounts that have beneficiaries are exempt from probate and intestate laws unless for some reason that fails. If your sister and brother in law died, you need to first figure out who died first. This is how the estate will first be divided and then the division will continue with the second death. So first you need to figure out who died first. If your brother in law died first and they had no children, the sister will take all of the estate if they had no other descendants like children. Then if your sister died, you and your sister will take equally. While it sounds like your kids would take equally, you need to find out if this means your descendants if you pass (pre-decease your sister). This is most likely the case.


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