If a person dies without a Will, the person is deemed to have died “intestate” and the disposition of the person’s assets is governed by the laws of Intestacy. The intestacy laws are found in the Maryland Annotated Code and specify the hierarchy for determining who is entitled to distribution.
For example, if the decedent had a spouse and minor children at the time of death, then according to the laws of intestacy, the spouse would be entitled to ½ of the probate estate and the minor children would be entitled to divide the remaining ½ of the estate.
If, however, the decedent had a spouse and adult children at the time of death, then the spouse would get the first $15,000 of the estate and 1/2 of the remaining balance. In this case, the adult children would be entitled to the other half.
If, there is no surviving spouse, then the estate is distributed to the decedent’s children, or grandchildren and so forth.
This type of structure continues until one or more living blood relatives are identified. If there are no living blood relatives within the 5th degree, then the estate assets are converted to cash and paid the local Board of Education to be used for the public schools.