Intestate Succession Laws by State

Every state and the District of Columbia has intestacy laws determining who inherits property when someone dies without a will or trust. Intestate succession laws are similar across states, but there can also be meaningful differences. For example, intestate succession works differently with separate property versus community property and the share of the deceased person's estate that some people have a right to inherit.

This page describes intestate succession rules and how they apply to transferring personal property. You will also find links to each state's laws of intestate succession.

What Is Intestate Succession?

The laws of intestate succession come into play when a person dies without a valid will or trust. The deceased person's property passes to certain family members who have a right to inherit according to the laws of the state in which the decedent was domiciled at the time of death. That is, the place they called home.

They may have had property in another state, but their main home is where the probate court will open a case. A probate court in any other state(s) will have authority over only the personal property in that state.

Intestate succession statutes identify and prioritize heirs so that the decedent's property can be distributed fairly, legally, and in an organized manner.

Intestate Succession Does Not Apply to All Property

Not all property passes to heirs through the probate process. Some assets are not part of the decedent's estate. These include:

  • Property held in a living trust or an irrevocable trust
  • Life insurance policies that go to a named beneficiary
  • Payable-on-death (POD) bank accounts
  • Retirement accounts that go to a named beneficiary

An account owner can easily name a designated beneficiary by contacting the financial institution. Some real property assets pass to loved ones through title or deed. These include real estate such as a home owned as tenants in common or in joint tenancy with right of survivorship.

The property may be inherited by:

  • A surviving spouse
  • A spouse plus biological children
  • A spouse plus biological children and adopted children of the decedent
  • Other family members

Different states have different lists of property and assets for which intestate succession applies.

Property Distribution by Intestate Succession

Generally, heirs are grouped into classes. The classes determine the order in which the property will transfer to heirs. The share of the property depends on the closeness of the legal relationship between the heir and the decedent. For example, one class may receive one-third, one-half, or even all of an estate. The classes of heirs can be as follows:

  • The Decedent's Surviving Spouse: Some states protect inheritance rights. Some heirs cannot be totally disinherited.
  • Biological Children and Adopted Children: A trustee or guardian manages an inheritance for minor children. Stepchildren are not part of intestate succession, regardless of the relationship's proximity. For a stepchild to inherit, the decedent must name them in their will or trust.
  • Grandchildren: The children of a deceased child. For example, if the decedent had three adult children when they died and one of those children was dead, that child's children would split, in equal shares, the share their parent would have inherited.
  • Surviving Parents
  • Siblings of the Decedent
  • Descendants of Decedent's Siblings: Nieces and nephews
  • Descendants of Grandparents: Aunts and uncles

If none of the individuals above exist, the decedent's entire estate may transfer to the state. This is called escheat.

State Laws on Intestate Succession

All 50 states and the District of Columbia have probate and estate laws. Here are links and citations to intestate succession laws for each state and the District of Columbia.


Citation & Link

Title & Description


AL CODE §§ 43-8-40 to 43-8-58

Alabama Code Title 43, Chapter 8 (Probate Code), Article 3 (Intestate Succession)


AK ST §§ 13.12.101 to 13.12.114

Alaska Statutes Title 13, Chapter 12, Article 1 (Intestate Succession)


AZ REV ST §§ 14-2101 to 14-2114

Arizona Revised Statutes Title 14, Chapter 2, Article 1 (Intestate Succession)


AR CODE §§ 28-9-201 to 28-9-221

Arkansas Code Title 28, Subtitle 2, Chapter 9 (Intestate Succession), Subchapter 2 (Arkansas Inheritance Code of 1969)


CA PROBATE §§ 6400 to 6455

California Probate Code, Division 6 (Wills and Intestate Succession), Part 2 (Intestate Succession)


CO REV ST §§ 15-11-101 to 15-11-122

Colorado Revised Statutes Title 15, Article 11, Part 1 (Intestate Succession)


CT GEN ST §§ 45a-273 to 45a-468m

Connecticut General Statutes Title 45A, Chapter 802B (Decedents' Estates)


DE CODE Tit 12 §§ 501 to 511

Delaware Code Title 12, Part III, Chapter 5 (Intestate Succession)

District of Columbia

DC CODE §§ 19-301 to 19-322

District of Columbia Code Division III, Title 19, Chapter 3 (Intestates' Estates)


FL ST §§ 732-101 to 732-111

Florida Statutes Title XLII, Chapter 732, Part I (Intestate Succession)


GA CODE §§ 53-2-1 to 53-2-51

Georgia Code Title 53, Chapter 2 (Descent and Distribution)


HI REV ST §§ 560:2-101 to 560:2-114

Hawaii Revised Statutes Division 3, Title 30A, Chapter 560, Article II, Part I (Intestate Succession)


ID ST §§ 15-2-101 to 15-2-114

Idaho Statutes Title 15, Chapter 2, Part 1 (Intestate Succession)


IL ST CH 755 §§ 5/2-1 to 5/2-9

Illinois Statutes Chapter 755, Act 5, Article II (Descent and Distribution)


IN CODE §§ 29-1-2-0.1 to 29-1-2-15

Indiana Code Title 29, Article 1, Chapter 2 (Intestate Succession and Rights of Certain Interested Persons)


IA CODE §§ 633.210 to 633.231

Iowa Code Title XV, Subtitle 4, Chapter 633, Division IV (Intestate Succession)


KS ST §§ 59-501 to 59-514

Kansas Statutes Chapter 59, Article 5 (Intestate Succession)


KY REV ST §§ 391.010 to 391.360

Kentucky Revised Statutes Title XXXIV, Chapter 391 (Descent and Distribution)


LA CIV CODE Tit. I, Art. 880 to 901

Louisiana Civil Code Book III, Title I (Successions), Chapter 2 (Intestate Succession)


ME REV ST Tit. 18-A §§ 2-101 to 2-114

Maine Revised Statutes Title 18-A, Article II, Part 1 (Intestate Succession)


MD CODE, EST & TRUSTS §§ 3-101 to 3-112

Maryland Code, Estates and Trusts, Title 3, Subtitle 1 (Intestate Succession)


MA GEN LAWS Ch. 190B, §§ 2-101 to 2-114

Massachusetts General Laws Part II, Chapter 190B, Article II, Part 1 (Intestate Succession)


MI COMP LAWS §§ 700.2101 to 700.2114

Michigan Compiled Laws Chapter 700, Article II, Part 1 (Intestate Succession)


MN ST §§ 524.2-101 to 524.2-123

Minnesota Statutes Chapter 524, Article 2, Part 1 (Intestate Succession)


MS CODE §§ 91-1-1 to 9-1-31

Mississippi Code Title 91, Chapter 1 (Descent and Distribution)


MO REV ST §§ 474.010 to 474.155

Missouri Revised Statutes Title XXXI, Chapter 474 (Intestate Succession and Wills)


MT CODE ANN §§ 72-11-101 to 72-11-104

Montana Code Annotated Title 72, Chapter 11 (Intestate Succession)


NE REV ST §§ 30-2301 to 30-2312

Nebraska Revised Statutes Chapter 30, Article 23, Part 1 (Intestate Succession)


NV REV ST §§ 134.005 to 134.210

Nevada Revised Statutes Title 12, Chapter 134 (Succession)

New Hampshire

NH ST §§ 561:1 to 561:21

New Hampshire Statutes, Title LVI, Chapter 561 (Descent, Distribution, and Advancements)

New Jersey

NJ 3B §§ 5-1 to 5-14.1

New Jersey Statutes Title 3B, Chapter 5, Article 1 (Intestate Succession)

New Mexico

NM ST §§ 45-2-101 to 45-2-122

New Mexico Chapter 45, Article 2, Part 1 (Intestate Succession)

New York

NY EST POW & TRST §§ 4-1.1 to 4-1.6

New York Estates, Powers, and Trusts Law Article 4, Part 1 (Rules Governing Intestate Succession)

North Carolina

NC GEN ST §§ 29-1 to 29-30

North Carolina General Statutes Chapter 29 (Intestate Succession)

North Dakota

ND CENT CODE §§ 30.1-04-01 to 30.1-04-21

North Dakota Century Code Title 30.1, Article II, Chapter 30.1-04 (Intestate Succession)


OH REV CODE §§ 2105.01 to 2105.39

Ohio Revised Code Title XXI, Chapter 2105 (Descent and Distribution)


OK ST §§ 84-4-211 to 84-4-232

Oklahoma Statutes Title 84, Chapter 4, Section 213 (Succession)


OR REV ST §§ 112.015 to 112.115

Oregon Revised Statutes Title 12, Chapter 112 (Intestate Succession and Wills)


PA ST 20 P.a.C.S.A. §§ 2101 to 2110

Pennsylvania Statutes Title 20, Chapter 21 (Intestate Succession)

Rhode Island

RI GEN LAWS §§ 33-1-1 to 33-1-13

Rhode Island General Laws Title 33, Chapter 1 (Rules of Descent)

South Carolina

SC CODE §§ 62-2-101 to 62-2-114

South Carolina Code of Laws Title 62, Article 2 (Intestate Succession and Wills)

South Dakota

SD CODE LAWS ANN. §§ 29A-2-101 to 29A-2-114

South Dakota Codified Laws Annotated Chapter 29A-2, Part 1 (Intestate Succession)


TN CODE §§ 31-2-101 to 31-2-110

Tennessee Code Title 31, Chapter 2 (Intestate Succession)


TX EST §§ 201.001 to 201.003

Texas Estates Code Title 2, Subtitle E, Chapter 201, Subchapter A (Intestate Succession)


UT CODE §§ 75-2-101 to 75-2-114

Utah Code Title 75, Chapter 2, Part 1 (Intestate Succession)


VT ST Tit. 14 §§ 301 to 338

Vermont Statutes Title 14, Part 2, Chapter 42 (Descent and Survivors' Rights)


VA CODE §§ 64.2-200 to 64.2-206

Virginia Code Title 64.2, Subtitle II, Chapter 2 (Descent and Distribution)


WA REV CODE §§ 11.04.015 to 11.04.290

Washington Revised Code Title 11, Chapter 11.04 (Descent and Distribution)

West Virginia

WV CODE §§ 42-1-1 to 42-1-10

West Virginia Code Chapter 42, Article 1 (Descent)


WI ST §§ 852.01 to 852.14

Wisconsin Statutes Probate, Chapter 852 (Intestate Succession)


WY ST §§ 2-4-101 to 2-4-214

Wyoming Statutes Title 2, Chapter 4 (Intestate Succession)

Get Legal Help With Estate Planning

If you have questions regarding the validity of a will or intestate succession, an estate planning lawyer can help. Ensure that your probate property will pass to your loved ones — especially if those loved ones aren't relatives. You must have a will.

An estate planning law firm can help with both simple wills and more comprehensive estate plans, including wills, trusts, guardians, powers of attorney, and more. Contact a local estate planning attorney in your area.

Many people can draft a last will and testament on their own with the help of online estate planning forms.

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