If someone dies without a Will, who inherits from them?

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If someone dies without a Will, who inherits from them?

My mother passed away and did not leave a Will. I am my mother only living child. My sister passed away prior to my mother’s death; she had 3 grown children. Can I sell the home without them?

Asked on January 1, 2012 under Estate Planning, Texas

Answers:

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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If your mother died without a Will then she is said to have died "intestate". This means that the laws of the state in which she was domiciled as of the date of her death will control.

The general rule is that if there is no surviving spouse, the children of the deceased will inherit. If 1 of the deceased's children dies before them, then their children will inherit their parent's share. In other words, if you and your sister were your mother's only children, you would each be entitled to 1/2 of her estate. However, since your sister is dead, her share will be divided equally among her children. So, you will receive 1/2 of the estate and your nieces/nephews will divide you sister's 1/2 share (that means her children each get 1/3 of her share).

Bottom line, typically all heirs (you and your sister's children) need to consent to the sale of estate property.

Since intestacy laws vary state-to-state, you should to speak directly with a probate attorney in your area, or at least contact the Probate Court in the county in which your mother died (they may be able to provide you with help or at least direct you to someone who can).


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