If you die without a Will, you have died intestate. Your property still must go through a probate process in order to have the legal title to the property transferred to your heirs-at-law. Your heirs-at-law are defined by applicable state statutes. The law of the state where you live controls the distribution of your personal property. The rules for determining who gets property distributed from an in testate estate have many variations.
Some states pass a decedent’s estate to his or her spouse and blood relatives (those descended from common ancestors). The only exception to this general statement is that legally adopted persons are also treated as blood relatives. One share of the decedents estate is allocated for each child of the decedent and one share is allotted to the spouse of the decedent, if any. For example, the estate of a man who dies with a wife and three children would be split between the wife and children in equal fourths. This allocation is made per stirpes, meaning that the share of any deceased child is split between that child’s children (the decedent’s grandchildren), and so on at subsequent generational levels. If the decedent leaves no spouse or children, his estate is split among descendants of his ancestors, beginning with father, mother, siblings, and children of siblings who predecease the decedent. If the decedent leaves no children and a spouse, his or her spouse will inherit the entire estate.