How will an estate be distributed if no will exists?

How will an estate be distributed if no will exists?

If a decedent does not leave a will, his or her estate will be distributed according to the law of “intestacy” in South Carolina. The intestacy statutes provide generally as follows:

  • If there is a surviving spouse and no children/issue, then the spouse takes the entire probate estate.

  • If there is a spouse and children, the spouse takes half and the children take the remaining half of the probate estate.

  • If there are children but no spouse, then the probate estate is divided among the children.

  • If a child predeceases the decedent, leaving children or other lineal descendants (issue), then these issue take the share their parent would have taken, "by representation".

  • If neither spouse nor children/issue survive, the estate passes to the decedent’s parents, and if none, then to the issue of parents, and so on.

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