Descent Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Descent, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Descent?

n. Inheritance rules that were established by law for cases where a will does not exist that names who should receive the possessions of the deceased. State rules vary and are governed by the law of the state where the deceased lived. The estate my all go to a surviving spouse and down the line from a parent to child or to surviving parents, or to brothers and sisters. Determining who receives the estate depends upon which relatives survive. Aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews may inherit if there are no relative survivors, but it depends upon the decree of kinship, state laws of descent and distribution, and whether the person who has died lived in a community property state.