Who is entitled to inherit from a grandparent who died without a Will?

UPDATED: Jan 23, 2011

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Who is entitled to inherit from a grandparent who died without a Will?

My grandparents raised me and had legal guardianship of me. Everyone has now passed on and my grandfather never thought he had to have a Will. He just passed away and now there is another grandchild stepping in and saying that he wants something, even though my grandfather did not mention him. My father was their oldest child and I was my father’s only child.

Asked on January 23, 2011 under Estate Planning, Missouri


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

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

When someone dies without a Will they are said to have died "intestate".  This means that the law of the state in which they were domiciled as of the date of their death will control.  Accordingly, your grandfather's estate will be distributed to his surviving heirs.  From what you have written, that would be his 2 grandchildren. Pursuant to state law, both of you would share his estate 50%/50%. While this may not have been your grandfather's wish, it is the law.  This is why preparing a Will is so important; it insures that a person's estate is divided as they want it to be. 

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