1

intestate

adjective in·tes·tate \ in-ˈte-ˌstāt , -stət \

Definition of intestate

1 : having made no valid will
  • died intestate
2 : not disposed of by will
  • an intestate estate

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Did You Know?

Intestate was borrowed into English in the 14th century from Latin intestatus, which was itself formed by combining the prefix in- ("not") and the adjective testatus, meaning "having left a valid will." Testatus, in turn, derives from the past participle of the verb testari, meaning "to make a will." Approximately a century later, English speakers returned to testatus to coin the word testate, which also means "having left a valid will." Other descendants of testari in English include detest, protest, and testament, as well as testator ("a person who dies leaving a will or testament in force"). The antonym of testator is the noun intestate, meaning "one who dies without a will."

Origin and Etymology of intestate

Middle English, from Latin intestatus, from in- + testatus testate


2

intestate

noun

Definition of intestate

: one who dies intestate

First Known Use of intestate

1658


Financial Definition of INTESTATE

intestate

What It Is

Intestate means dying without a will.

How It Works

For example, let’s assume that John Doe dies without a will. He has a sister and a brother, but no wife or children.

Because John died intestate, the estate goes to probate court, as do many estates large and small. In this case, a judge has to allow the transfer of John's money and property to the sister and brother. This procedure (probate) opens the door for relatives or third parties to contest the judge's decision or to offer interpretations (or misinterpretations) of John Doe’s last wishes, both of which can tie up an estate in court for years.

Why It Matters

Dying without a will means allowing the state to decide how to distribute your assets after you die. Generally, a court-appointed executor, who may or may not have known you, will make the distributions. Many states have laws regarding the distribution of assets of people who die intestate. Often, these laws state that spouses inherit the entire estate, though some will cap the value and give excesses to children or other parties.

Many people think they don't need to do any sort of estate planning, and they think that the existence of a simple will does the job. However, wills are simply legal documents that express the decedent's intentions for burial and to whom he or she wishes to pass money and property (the estate) when he or she dies. In many cases, wills must also go through the probate process.

Establishing a trust often aids greatly in this situation because it allows a person to transfer legal title of his or her property to another person while they're still alive, potentially saving thousands in probate fees (and taxes). A trust also gives the trustee (the person acting on behalf of the decedent) the authority to distribute assets immediately to the beneficiaries based on the terms of the trust. No court is involved, so there are no probate fees and no public record of the value of the estate. Trusts are not for everyone, however, so it is important to seek proper financial advice.



INTESTATE Defined for English Language Learners

intestate

adjective

Definition of intestate for English Language Learners

  • law : not having made a will


Law Dictionary

1

intestate

adjective in·tes·tate \ in-ˈtes-ˌtāt \

legal Definition of intestate

1 : having not made a valid will
  • died intestate
2 : not disposed of by a valid will
  • intestate property
  • an intestate estate
; specifically : transmitted according to statutory rules governing intestate succession
3 : of or relating to intestate succession
  • intestate laws

Origin and Etymology of intestate

Latin intestatus, from in- not + testatus testate


2

intestate

noun

legal Definition of intestate

: a person who dies intestate


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