How is the estate divided when there are no surviving spouses, children, parents or siblings?
Generally, when someone dies intestate (without leaving behind a legally valid will) and is not survived by any spouse, child, parent or sibling, 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 are any surviving descendents of the deceased person’s parents (e.g., the deceased’s nieces and nephews) the estate goes to them. If there are no such surviving descendents, the estate generally would go to any surviving descendants of the deceased’s grandparents (e.g., his or her aunts, uncles and cousins). If there are no such surviving family members, then the escheat process generally kicks in and the estate goes to the state government.