intestacy rules

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Intestacy Rules are rules for distributing property that belonged to someone who died intestate.  Intestacy rules usually take the form of sequential if-then statements that tell a probate court which heirs should be given priority in claiming the intestate decedent's property.

One legal case that has played a role in shaping intestate rules is the case of Trimble v. Gordon. In that case, the Supreme Court held that the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment applies to intestate succession statutes, and that these statutes cannot be used to discriminate on the basis of gender. This ruling helped to establish the principle that intestate rules must be applied fairly and impartially.

[Last updated in February of 2023 by the Wex Definitions Team]