question.jpgIn Trusts and Estates

How is an estate divided when the decedent has children?

Generally, when someone dies intestate (without leaving behind a legally valid will) and is survived by one or more of their children, the inheritance scheme works as follows (this may differ in some states, so you should be careful to check your state’s probate code). If there is a surviving spouse, the rules described here would apply. Where there is no surviving spouse, the deceased’s children get 100% of the estate to share equally among themselves.

When all of the deceased’s children outlive him or her, this is easy - the children simply each take an equal share of the probate estate. Its gets more complicated if one or more of the children died before the deceased, and have children of their own (in other words, the deceased is survived by one or more grandchildren). In that case, how the property gets distributed depends on what rules of distribution the applicable state follows. There are three different ways it works, one based on the right of representation method, one on the per capita with representation distribution method and the final on the per capita at each generation distribution.