A person who dies is known as the “decedent.” A decedent who dies without a will is known as dying “intestate.”
If a person dies without a will, a court of law must follow state law (instead of the decedent’s desires) to establish who is entitled to receive the decedent’s property. These state laws are called laws of intestate succession. State intestate laws generally direct the distribution of a decedent’s estate based on hereditary succession, i.e., to surviving relatives.
The court process that takes place after a person’s death to validate the will or to determine proper intestate succession is known as probate, and is discussed in more detail later in my book “Nothing But The Truth About Estate Planning, Probate And Living Trusts”. Download your copy here: Nothing But The Truth About Estate Planning, Probate And Living Trusts by Larry Israeloff CPA & tax attorney.