Intestate Definition and Legal Meaning

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

What is Intestate?

a condition where a person dies without making a legal will or has made mentioned anything regarding the distribution of his property after his death.

History and Definition of Intestate

Intestate refers to the legal status of a person who dies without leaving behind a will or any instructions on how their assets should be distributed after death. In such cases, the deceased's estate is subject to the laws of intestacy, which dictate how their property will be distributed among their heirs. These laws vary by jurisdiction and are typically based on the degree of familial relationship between the deceased and their surviving relatives.

The term "intestate" comes from the Latin word "intestatus," which means "not having made a will." Historically, intestacy laws have been in place since ancient Roman times, and have since been adopted by many countries around the world. Intestacy laws have evolved over time, reflecting changes in societal norms and familial relationships.

Examples of Intestate

  1. John died suddenly without leaving a will, leaving his estate to be divided according to the intestacy laws of his state.
  2. Mary's husband died intestate, and she inherited his entire estate as his surviving spouse.
  3. When Peter's father died without a will, his estate was divided among his children according to the intestacy laws of their state.

Legal Terms Similar to Intestate

  • Probate: the legal process of administering an estate after a person's death, which includes proving the validity of a will and distributing the deceased's assets.
  • Trust: a legal arrangement in which a person, known as the trustor, gives their assets to a trustee to manage for the benefit of a beneficiary or beneficiaries.
  • Beneficiary: a person or persons named in a will or trust to receive assets or property.
  • Estate: the assets and liabilities left behind by a person after their death, including property, money, and other valuables.
  • Heir: a person who is entitled to receive a share of an intestate person's estate based on their degree of familial relationship to the deceased.