Intestacy Distribution

How are Assets Distributed in Illinois When there is No Will?  Per Stirpes Distribution

If a decedent dies without a will, Illinois intestacy laws[1] determine who is entitled to inherit assets.  The amount individuals are entitled to receive depends on their relationship to the decedent.

In general, when there is no will, an estate is distributed “per stirpes” in accordance with the closest blood class of people to the decedent, with each person in that class being entitled to receive an equal share.

As an example, if a father with three children dies without a will or a surviving spouse, each of his children would receive 1/3 of the estate.  Suppose, however, that one of the father’s children died before the father, and that the deceased child had two children.  In this case, the father’s two surviving children would each inherit 1/3 of the father’s estate, and the two children of the deceased child (the father’s grandchildren), would each inherit the remaining 1/3 of the estate (thus they would each get 1/6 of the total estate).

Specific Circumstance of Asset Apportionment in Illinois When There is No Will

The following outlines how assets are to be apportioned under Illinois intestacy laws:

  • If the decedent leaves a surviving spouse and also a descendant: 1/2 of the entire estate to the surviving spouse and 1/2 to the decedent’s descendants per stirpes.
  • If there is no surviving spouse but a descendant of the decedent: the entire estate to the decedent’s descendants per stirpes.
  • If there is a surviving spouse but no children of the decedent: the entire estate to the surviving spouse.
  • If there is no surviving spouse or descendant but a parent, brother, sister or descendant of a brother or sister of the decedent: the entire estate to the parents, brothers, and sisters of the decedent in equal parts, allowing to the surviving parent if one is dead a double portion and to the descendants of a deceased brother or sister per stirpes the portion which the deceased brother or sister would have taken if living.
  • If there is no living spouse, descendant, parent, brother, sister or descendant of a brother or sister of the decedent but a grandparent or descendant of a grandparent of the decedent: (1) 1/2 of the entire estate to the decedent’s maternal grandparents in equal parts or to the survivor of them, or if there is none surviving, to their descendants per stirpes, and (2) 1/2 of the entire estate to the decedent’s paternal grandparents in equal parts or to the survivor of them, or if there is none surviving, to their descendants per stirpes.
  • If there is no surviving spouse, child, parent, brother, sister, descendant of a brother or sister or grandparent or descendant of a grandparent of the decedent: (1) 1/2 of the entire estate to the decedent’s maternal great-grandparents in equal parts or to the survivor of them, or if there is none surviving, to their descendants per stirpes, and (2) 1/2 of the entire estate to the decedent’s paternal great-grandparents in equal parts or to the survivor of them, or if there is none surviving, to their descendants per stirpes.
  • If there is no spouse, child, parent, brother, sister, descendant of a brother or sister, grandparent, descendant of a grandparent, great-grandparent or descendant of a great-grandparent of the decedent: the entire estate in equal parts to the nearest kindred of the decedent in equal degree (computing by the rules of the civil law) and without representation.[2]

Intestate Distribution Can Be Complex; I’m Here to Help

I help personal representatives understand how assets should be distributed in situations involving both a will and where there is no will.  I would invite you to call me to learn how I can help if you’ve been named, or desire to be named, as an executor, administrator, or personal representative.


[1] 755 ILCS 5/2.

[2] 755 ILCS 5/2.

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