What Is A Child Entitled To When A Parent Dies Without A Will?

What Is A Child Entitled To When A Parent Dies Without A Will

What is a child entitled to when a parent dies without a will?

In this article, you’ll learn about: 

  • how an estate gets distributed when a parent dies without a will
  • only one parent dying vs both parents dying
  • who will take care of your minor children
  • what steps you should take if a parent dies without a will
  • what about adopted and stepchildren
  • do you have to pay back your parents’ debts
  • who gets the house

Let’s dig in. 

Table of Contents

The Hive Law Has Been Featured In

Get A FREE Consultation!

We run out of free consultations every month. Sign up to make sure you get your free consultation. (Free $350 value.)

What Is A Child Entitled To When A Parent Dies Without A Will?

Let’s talk about what a child is entitled to when a parent dies without a will

The distribution of a deceased’s estate is determined by the intestacy laws of their jurisdiction. 

Spouses and children usually inherit the estate.

The specific distribution depends on the:

  • number of children 
  • applicable laws 

If the deceased was not married, children typically inherit the entire estate. 

Other relatives, such as parents or siblings, may inherit if no spouse or children are present. 

In rare cases, the estate may go to the state or government. 

Keep in mind that these are general principles, and the specific rules vary by jurisdiction. 

Intestacy Laws When A Parent Dies Without A Will

Intestate laws determine what a child is entitled to when a parent dies without a will

These laws vary by jurisdiction and often prioritize the surviving spouse and children. 

Generally, the spouse receives a portion of the estate.

While the remaining assets are divided among the children. 

If there is no spouse, children usually inherit the entire estate equally. 

Read More: How To Transfer A Property Deed From A Deceased Relative

Inheritance Laws By State

Here’s what a child is entitled to when a parent dies without a will in each state

Note that these inheritance laws by state only show what happens when one parent dies. 

In all states, when both parents die, the children inherit equal shares of the entire estate. 

StateSpouse & Children
AlabamaSpouse inherits 1/2 of the estate; children inherit the other 1/2 in equal shares
AlaskaSpouse inherits the first $200,000 + 3/4 of the remaining estate; children inherit the other 1/4
ArizonaSpouse inherits all community property; children inherit equal shares of separate property
ArkansasSpouse inherits 1/3 of the estate; children inherit the other 2/3 in equal shares
CaliforniaSpouse inherits all community property; children inherit equal shares of separate property
ColoradoSpouse inherits the first $225,000 + 1/2 of the remaining estate; children inherit the other 1/2
ConnecticutSpouse inherits the first $100,000 + 1/2 of the remaining estate; children inherit the other 1/2
DelawareSpouse inherits the first $50,000 + 1/2 of the remaining estate; children inherit the other 1/2
FloridaSpouse inherits the entire estate if all children are also children of the surviving spouse; otherwise, spouse inherits 1/2 and children inherit 1/2
GeorgiaSpouse inherits 1/3 of the estate; children inherit the other 2/3 in equal shares
HawaiiSpouse inherits the first $200,000 + 3/4 of the remaining estate; children inherit the other 1/4
IdahoSpouse inherits all community property; children inherit equal shares of separate property
IllinoisSpouse inherits 1/2 of the estate; children inherit the other 1/2 in equal shares
IndianaSpouse inherits the first $150,000 + 1/2 of the remaining estate; children inherit the other 1/2
IowaSpouse inherits the first $50,000 + 1/2 of the remaining estate; children inherit the other 1/2
KansasSpouse inherits the first $150,000 + 1/2 of the remaining estate; children inherit the other 1/2
KentuckySpouse inherits 1/2 of the estate; children inherit the other 1/2 in equal shares
LouisianaSpouse inherits usufruct (right to use) of community property for life; children inherit naked ownership of community property; children inherit equal shares of separate property
MaineSpouse inherits the first $50,000 + 1/2 of the remaining estate; children inherit the other 1/2
MarylandSpouse inherits the first $40,000 + 1/2 of the remaining estate; children inherit the other 1/2
MassachusettsSpouse inherits the first $100,000 + 1/2 of the remaining estate; children inherit the other 1/2
MichiganSpouse inherits the first $150,000 + 1/2 of the remaining estate; children inherit the other 1/2
MinnesotaSpouse inherits the first $225,000 + 1/2 of the remaining estate; children inherit the other 1/2
MississippiSpouse inherits 1/2 of the estate; children inherit the other 1/2 in equal shares
MissouriSpouse inherits the first $20,000 + 1/2 of the remaining estate; children inherit the other 1/2
MontanaSpouse inherits all community property; children inherit equal shares of separate property
NebraskaSpouse inherits the first $100,000 + 1/2 of the remaining estate; children inherit the other 1/2
NevadaSpouse inherits all community property; children inherit equal shares of separate property
New HampshireSpouse inherits the first $250,000 + 1/2 of the remaining estate; children inherit the other 1/2
New JerseySpouse inherits the first $50,000 + 1/2 of the remaining estate; children inherit the other 1/2
New MexicoSpouse inherits all community property; children inherit equal shares of separate property
New YorkSpouse inherits the first $50,000 + 1/2 of the remaining estate; children inherit the other 1/2
North CarolinaSpouse inherits the first $30,000 + 1/2 of the remaining estate; children inherit the other 1/2
North DakotaSpouse inherits the first $200,000 + 3/4 of the remaining estate; children inherit the other 1/4
OhioSpouse inherits the first $20,000 + 1/3 of the remaining estate; children inherit the other 2/3
OklahomaSpouse inherits 1/2 of the estate; children inherit the other 1/2 in equal shares
OregonSpouse inherits the first $200,000 + 3/4 of the remaining estate; children inherit the other 1/4
PennsylvaniaSpouse inherits the first $30,000 + 1/2 of the remaining estate; children inherit the other 1/2
Rhode IslandSpouse inherits the first $50,000 + 1/2 of the remaining estate; children inherit the other 1/2
South CarolinaSpouse inherits 1/2 of the estate; children inherit the other 1/2 in equal shares
South DakotaSpouse inherits the first $100,000 + 1/2 of the remaining estate; children inherit the other 1/2
TennesseeSpouse inherits 1/3 of the estate; children inherit the other 2/3 in equal shares
TexasSpouse inherits 1/3 of personal property and a life estate in 1/3 of real estate; children inherit 2/3 of personal property and real estate
UtahSpouse inherits all community property; children inherit equal shares of separate property
VermontSpouse inherits the first $50,000 + 1/2 of the remaining estate; children inherit the other 1/2
VirginiaSpouse inherits the first $15,000 + 1/2 of the remaining estate; children inherit the other 1/2
WashingtonSpouse inherits all community property; children inherit equal shares of separate property
West VirginiaSpouse inherits the first $50,000 + 1/2 of the remaining estate; children inherit the other 1/2
WisconsinSpouse inherits all community property; children inherit equal shares of separate property
WyomingSpouse inherits the first $200,000 + 3/4 of the remaining estate; children inherit the other 1/4

And, note that these laws are subject to change. 

You can fill out the form on this page to talk to a lawyer. 

They will tell you what a child is entitled to when a parent dies without a will in your state. 

Intestate Succession Scenarios

There are a few different scenarios you might be facing. 

Your situation tells us what a child is entitled to when a parent dies without a will

The different situations are:

What Happens When One Parent Dies Without A Will?

When a parent dies without a will, their estate is distributed per intestacy laws. 

These laws vary by location but often prioritize the surviving spouse and children. 

If a spouse is alive, they may receive a portion of the estate.

And the remainder will get divided among the children

Read More: How To Transfer Property After Death Of Parent With Will

What Happens If Both Parents Die Without A Will?

If both parents die without a will, the estate gets distributed per intestacy laws. 

These laws vary by location but often prioritize the surviving children. 

Typically, children inherit the entire estate in equal shares

The specific rules depend on the state you live in.

Seeking legal advice is recommended for accurate information. 

You can fill out the form on this page to chat with an estate planning lawyer.

What About Adopted Children And Stepchildren?

Inheritance rights of adopted children and stepchildren are important to consider. 

Adopted children are treated like biological children under intestacy laws.

They usually inherit from a parent’s estate when there is no will. 

They share the estate with biological children based on the specific jurisdiction’s laws.

Stepchildren do not automatically inherit from a stepparent’s estate unless legally adopted. 

Without stepchild adoption generally have no legal claim to the estate. 

To include stepchildren in inheritance, the deceased should specify this in a will or estate planning document.

 

It is crucial for parents to create a will and plan their estate, especially if they have adopted or stepchildren. 

This process ensures that their:

  • children’s interests are safeguarded 
  • their wishes are carried out effectively

Read More: Can A Sibling Be A Guardian?

What Is A Minor Child Entitled To When A Parent Dies Without A Will?

We talked about children in generalities. 

But what if you die without a will and you have minor children

This is what a minor child is entitled to when a parent dies without a will:

  1. Estate Distribution: Intestacy laws in the deceased’s jurisdiction govern the distribution of assets. The surviving spouse and minor child will usually inherit the estate. If there is no spouse, the minor child is likely to inherit the entire estate.
  2. Guardianship: If no guardian has been designated, the court will appoint a guardian for the minor child, considering the child’s best interests. The guardian will be responsible for the child’s personal care and upbringing.
  3. Financial Management: The court may also appoint a conservator or guardian of the estate to manage the child’s inheritance until they reach the age of majority. This person will be responsible for handling the money, property, and other assets on behalf of the minor child.
  4. Court Supervision: The appointed conservator or guardian of the estate will be subject to court supervision, which may include submitting periodic accountings and obtaining court approval for specific financial decisions.
  5. Transition To Adulthood: When the minor child reaches the age of majority (typically 18), they will usually gain control of their inheritance and can manage it independently.

You can appoint a guardian for your minor children. 

This will outline who raises your children and how they raise your children. 

For the assets, you can create a trust for your children. 

This way, their inheritance goes into the trust and gets managed by the trustee. 

This way, no one has access to your child’s inheritance. 

And you can set up rules for them to access the inheritance, like:

  • when they graduate from college
  • when they turn 18
  • when they get married
  • etc. 

Our wills lawyers can set this up for you. 

Just fill out the form on this page. 

Read More: The Biggest Mistake Parents Make When Setting Up A Trust Fund

What To Do When A Parent Dies Without A Will

When a parent dies without a will, take the following steps:

  1. Obtain the death certificate from the funeral home or vital records office.
  2. Locate important forms like insurance policies, bank statements, and property deeds.
  3. Consult a probate attorney to determine if probate proceedings are necessary.
  4. Research the intestacy laws in the deceased’s jurisdiction for asset distribution.
  5. Notify financial institutions of the death to handle accounts and investments.
  6. Assess the deceased’s outstanding debts and liabilities, and settle them.
  7. Inventory the deceased’s assets, including real estate, bank accounts, and personal property.
  8. Transfer property according to the intestacy laws of the deceased’s jurisdiction.
  9. File the deceased’s final tax return and pay any due taxes.
  10. Maintain open communication with family members and beneficiaries throughout the probate process.

Read More: How Much Does An Estate Have To Be Worth To Go To Probate?

What Happens To Personal Belongings After Death Without A Will?

When someone dies without a will, intestacy laws govern the distribution of personal belongings. 

These laws vary by jurisdiction and typically prioritize the surviving spouse and children. 

Personal belongings are considered part of the deceased’s estate. 

And they are distributed according to the specific rules of the jurisdiction. 

In most cases, the surviving spouse inherits a portion of the estate, including personal belongings.

And the remaining assets are divided among the children. 

If there is no spouse, the children usually inherit all personal belongings equally.

FAQs About What Is A Child Entitled To When A Parent Dies Without A Will

Here are other questions people ask about what children are entitled to when a parent dies without a will. 

What Is A Child Entitled To When A Parent Dies Without A Will In Texas?

In Texas, when a parent dies without a will, the surviving spouse:

  • inherits one-third of the deceased’s personal property
  • gains the right to use one-third of the real estate for their lifetime

The remaining two-thirds of both personal property and real estate are divided equally among the children. 

If there is no surviving spouse, the children inherit the entire estate in equal shares.

If A Parent Dies Without A Will Who Gets The House?

If a parent dies without a will, the house is typically inherited per the intestacy laws of the deceased’s jurisdiction. 

In most cases, the surviving spouse receives a portion of the estate, including the house. 

If there is no spouse, the children usually inherit the house and other assets equally. 

If Your Parents Die With Debt Who Pays It?

If your parents die with debt, their estate is responsible for paying it. 

The executor of the estate must use the deceased’s assets to pay off any outstanding debts.

That happens before distributing the remaining assets to the heirs. 

As a child or beneficiary, you are not personally liable for your parents’ debts.

Unless you are a co-signer or joint account holder. 

In cases where the estate’s assets are insufficient to cover the debts, those debts may go unpaid.

But you are not required to cover them with your personal funds.

What Happens To My Child If I Die Without A Will?

If you die without a will, the court decides your child’s guardianship. 

The court considers close relatives, such as grandparents or siblings, for guardianship. 

If no relatives are available or suitable, the court appoints a non-family guardian. 

Creating a will allows you to choose a preferred guardian for your child’s care.

Set Up A Will For Your Family

If you want to secure your legacy with our exclusive estate planning services, fill out the form below. 

At The Hive Law, we understand the importance of:

  • protecting your hard-earned assets 
  • ensuring your family’s future

We only accommodate a limited number of clients each month.

So don’t miss your opportunity to work with our esteemed estate planning attorneys.

Benefits of our estate planning services:

  • Tailored solutions to fit your unique needs and goals
  • Expert guidance in navigating complex tax and legal matters
  • Preservation of your wealth for future generations
  • Streamlined asset distribution according to your wishes

Avoid the pitfalls of inadequate estate planning:

  • Creditors seizing your assets
  • Lawsuits jeopardizing your family’s financial security
  • Family disputes over inheritance
  • Costly and time-consuming probate processes

Talk soon.

Get A FREE Consultation!

We run out of free consultations every month. Sign up to make sure you get your free consultation. (Free $350 value.)

Share This Post With Someone Who Needs To See It