When someone dies intestate, it means that they die without a valid will. And without a will, a court does not know what to do with the decedent’s property. Thus, the intestacy laws provide a distribution scheme for a decedent’s property. The rules try to mimic how most people would want their property distributed upon their death. First, it all goes to their spouse. If they do not have a spouse, it goes to their children. If they do not have children, then it goes to their parents. If they don’t survive, then it goes to the decedent’s siblings. Sometimes a decedent has no close relatives, and so his or her property goes to a laughing heir. A laughing heir is an individual who is remotely related to the decedent, and who likely did not know the individual during his or her lifetime, but still receives the decedent’s property because no other heirs exist under the intestacy law.
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