When an Indiana resident dies without a Last Will and Testament, they are automatically entered into the state's intestacy probate process. Each state controls the functioning of this process through the intestacy succession laws. In Indiana, these laws are found in the Indiana Code § § 29-1-2-1 to 29-1-2-15. This law will dictate the dispersal of the deceased person's probate estate.
Probate is a process where beneficiaries must prove to a court that the division of property is genuine and fair. The probate will include any items the decedent owned at the time of their death as well as debts they owed. The debt will be deducted from the value of possessions and the balance separated according to law.
The average cost of probate can vary widely depending on the size of the estate and whether or not you opt for "supervised" versus "unsupervised" administration. A good rule of thumb would be to expect anywhere from 2% to 10% of the value of the estate, depending on the size and complexity. Many law firms will offer a free probate consultation and can provide a more precise estimate based on your circumstances. The entire process can take up to two years to complete.
When the Deceased is Survived
Here is what will happen under the Indiana intestacy laws if the deceased person is survived by a spouse and/or descendants (children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc.) and/or parents:
Survived by a spouse and biological children
In this case, the surviving spouse will inherit one-half (1/2) of the deceased spouse's entire probate estate, and the deceased spouse's children will inherit the other one-half (1/2), per stirpes.
Survived by a spouse and non-biological children
In this case the surviving spouse will inherit one-half (1/2) of the deceased spouse's intestate personal property and one-fourth (1/4) of the value of the deceased spouse's real estate (excluding liens) and the remainder will go to the deceased spouse's children, per stirpes.
Survived by a spouse and no children or parents
In this case, the surviving spouse will inherit the deceased spouse's entire probate estate.
Survived by a spouse and parent or parents and no children
In this case, the surviving spouse will inherit three-fourths (3/4) of the deceased spouse's probate estate and the other one-fourth (1/4) will go equally to the parents or all to the only surviving parent.
Survived by children but without a spouse
In this case, the deceased person's descendants will inherit the entire probate estate, per stirpes.
Survived by a parent or parents and no spouse or children
In this case, the deceased person's parents will inherit the probate estate in equal shares if both are living or the entire probate estate will go to the only surviving parent.
No Surviving Spouse, Descendants, or Parents
Here is what will happen under the Indiana intestacy laws if the deceased person is not survived by a spouse, any descendants (children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc.) or their parents.
Survived by siblings or sibling descendants
In this case, the deceased person's brothers and/or sisters and the descendants of deceased brothers and/or sisters (nieces and nephews) will inherit the entire of the probate estate, per stirpes.
Not survived by any family members
In the unlikely circumstance that the deceased person is not survived by any family members as described above, then the entire probate estate will escheat to the State of Indiana.
What You Will Inherit From an Indiana Intestate Estate
What will you inherit if your relative dies without leaving a will and the relative was a resident of Indiana or owned real estate located in Indiana? Even if you determine based on the information presented above that you are entitled to an intestate share of your relative's estate, you may not inherit anything.
Your relative may have left the only non-probate property or the debt your relative owed at the time of death may exceed the value of the probate estate which will make the estate insolvent. If you're not sure about your legal rights as an intestate heir in Indiana, then consult with an Indiana probate attorney to be sure.
NOTE: State laws change frequently and the following information may not reflect recent changes in the laws. For current tax or legal advice, please consult with an accountant or an attorney since the information contained in this article is not tax or legal advice and is not a substitute for tax or legal advice.