older couple reviewing estate plan

What Are Your Children Entitled to if You Die Intestate?

Wills are important because they help to ensure that your property goes to the individuals you desire. They allow a parent to leave the property they want in the amounts that they want to their kids. But what happens if a parent dies without a will? Here’s what your children are entitled to if you die without a will (intestate).

In Rhode Island, if you pass away intestate your children will receive what’s referred to as an “intestate share” of your property. Their share size is dependent upon the number of children they have and whether they are married at the time of your passing. 

Who is Considered a “Child” for Purposes of Intestate Inheritance?

There are many types of children. You may be wondering who constitutes a child for the purposes of dying intestate. Here’s what to keep in mind:

  • Adopted children inherit just as biological children would
  • Foster children and stepchildren who aren’t legally adopted will not automatically receive a share. (Stepchildren may have a right of inheritance if you die without other family members.)
  • Children placed for adoption who were legally adopted by another family are still entitled to their intestate share of your estate.
  • Posthumous children (those conceived before your death but born after) are still entitled to an intestate share of your estate.
  • Children born out of wedlock are entitled to receive a share of your estate if you:
    • Married after birth
    • Acknowledged paternity
    • If paternity was otherwise established under state law
  • Grandchildren are only entitled to a share of your estate if their parent is not alive to receive their share. 

If You Lack Family

In the event that you pass away and don’t have a will or any family, your property will go to the state. Luckily, this is rare, as the laws favor giving your property to anyone related to you: spouse, children, parents, siblings, grandparents, great grandparents, aunts/uncles, great aunts/uncles, nieces/nephews, cousins, or even the children, parents, or siblings of your spouse if they have passed away before you. 

Additional Laws

There are also a few other laws regarding who can inherit from you. These laws are intended to protect you and also make sense. Such laws include the following:

  • Survivorship period – For a person to inherit from you, they must outlive you by at least 5 days. 
  • Citizenship – It doesn’t matter if your relatives are U.S. citizens – or even if they’re in the country legally – so long as they are entitled to a share of your property. 
  • Slayer Rule – If someone “willfully and lawfully” kills you or procures your death they are not entitled to receive a share of your estate. 
  • Advancements – If you gifted a relative property of yours during your lifetime, the value of the property will not be deducted from their share – unless you wrote it down at the time that you made the advancement or unless the relative admits to this in writing. 

PALUMBO LAW Helps Those in Rhode Island Who Need a Will

The most important thing about having a Will is that it allows you to have a say in who your property goes to after you’re gone. Having a comprehensive estate plan can help to prevent any confusion or disagreements amongst your loved ones, therefore saving them time, money, and aggravation. 

At PALUMBO LAW, our experienced Rhode Island property lawyers can help to ensure that you have a comprehensive estate plan that affords your wishes and desires and protects your loved ones. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, call us today!