An estate without a valid will in Indiana is intestate, which means that the court will distribute it based on state intestacy laws. There is a specific system to follow to ensure the court divides property consistently in every situation.
Any asset that has an assigned beneficiary automatically transfers to them after the decedent’s death. These assets don’t go through probate court and thus aren’t subject to intestate laws. Examples include trusts, transfer-on-death accounts and life insurance.
Jointly owned property doesn’t go through probate either. It transfers to the other owner. If the other owner isn’t alive, then the court will probably pass it on via intestate succession law.
Surviving spouse, children and parents
A decedent’s surviving spouse and children have the top priority under Indiana’s intestate succession law. The spouse gets everything when there aren’t children or parents. If there are a spouse and parents, then the spouse receives three-quarters and the parents take the remaining quarter.
Children inherit the entire estate if there isn’t a surviving spouse. When children and a spouse are alive, Indiana splits the estate equally between them, as long as they are the spouse’s children. In situations where the decedent has children from a previous relationship, then the property division is a little more complex. The surviving spouse receives half of the personal property and one-quarter of the real estate.
Parents would inherit everything when there isn’t a spouse, children or siblings. If there aren’t surviving parents either, then siblings get the estate. As for parents and siblings, they share it equally, and parents must receive at least one-quarter of the estate.
Legally adopted children
Only legally adopted children have a right to an inheritance from intestate succession. Stepchildren and foster children don’t qualify unless the decedent formally adopted them. Biological children whom the decedent put up for adoption can’t receive an inheritance if new parents adopted them. An exception is if the decedent’s spouse is the one who adopted them.
Intestacy succession passes on an estate first to the children and surviving spouse in Indiana. State law defines how to split the estate to maintain fairness and consistency.