When someone dies intestate, it means that person died without a will. If someone dies without a will, how their assets are distributed is determined by statute. The Indiana Probate code addresses, among other factors, estate distribution, taking into consideration multiple family structures of the deceased person. Ind. Code § 29-1-2.
When someone dies intestate, the estate must be probated, meaning the estate’s distribution to its heirs and beneficiaries must be legally valid and accurate. A probated estate is either supervised or unsupervised. A supervised estate merely means that the probate court supervises the estate until the estate is closed, and the estate’s personal representative must receive court approval before making any decisions pertaining to the estate. An unsupervised estate means that the probate court does not actively supervise the estate, and the personal representative may act independently in handling the estate without court approval.
Typically, when someone dies without a will, the decedent’s estate is distributed evenly among the decedent’s heirs in percentages determined by the person’s marital status and whether they have children. If the decedent was married and their spouse survived them, but the decedent had no children, then the entirety of the estate is distributed to the decedent’s spouse. If the decedent is survived by a spouse and children, the surviving spouse will receive half of the decedent’s estate and the remaining half will be distributed to the children, equally. If the decedent was unmarried and had no children, then the statute considers other familial relations for distribution of the decedent’s estate.
How much of the decedent’s estate will be distributed to the heirs depends on the value of the estate and the decedent’s debt. Many times, the amount of the decedent’s debt outweighs the value of the estate. In this instance, the heirs will not inherit any value from the estate, as the assets of the estate will be sold, and the proceeds of the sale will be used to pay off the decedent’s debt. If the value of the estate exceeds the amount of debt, the heirs will inherit the remainder of the decedent’s estate in accordance with statute.
Losing a loved one is never easy and attempting to distribute your loved one’s estate can add even more pain and grief during an already trying time. If your spouse, parent, or child has recently passed without a will, and you need assistance in probating the estate, please contact us at (317) 825-5110 to speak with one of our experienced attorneys. Additionally, if you do not have a will and would like assistance in planning your estate, one of our experienced attorneys will be happy to help you.
This McNeelyLaw LLP publication should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion of any specific facts or circumstances. The contents are intended for general informational purposes only, and you are urged to consult your own lawyer on any specific legal questions you may have concerning your situation.