Question: If my parents die without a Will, how will their assets be divided between the children?
Answer: Each state has a statute called an Intestacy Statute or a Statute of Descent and Distribution that is referred to when an individual dies without a will. The statute in Louisiana may go by a different name as the state is governed by French law while the rest of the country is governed by English common law.
In the scenario that you ask about, each of the children would be treated equally. In some instances (called per capita), all of the surviving children would share equally in the estate. In other circumstances (called per stirpes), all of the surviving children and any children of a deceased parent (i.e, grandchild or grandchildren) would share in the estate. Let’s say that the parent left 3 surviving children, then in a per capita state each child would receive 1/3 of their parent’s estate. If only 2 children survive, then each would receive 1/2 of their parent’s estate.
Now, let’s look at a per stirpes situation. Parent has 3 children, but one has predeceased leaving children of their own. The distribution would be 1/3 to each surviving child with the surviving grandchild or grandchildren of the predeceased child would receive the remaining 1/3. If there is one grandchild, then he or she would receive all of their parent’s share of the estate. If there are two or more grandchildren of the predeceased child, then they would divide the 1/3 share equally among themselves.
Ivan Michael Tucker, Esq.
Altamonte Springs, Florida