Definition - What does Intestate mean?
Intestate is the term used when a person dies without a will or the act of dying without a will. If a person dies without a will then jurisdictional laws will determine how the deceased's possessions will be handled. Most states allow for immediate inheritance by the surviving spouse. In cases where there is no surviving spouse, the children of the deceased will inhereit the possessions. If no heirs or family can be found, the state can take possession of the estate. However, the probate court is the deciding factor of the distribution.
Justipedia explains Intestate
When someone dies intestate, it means they died without a will. State laws will determine how their personal goods and property will be distributed. Generally, the probate court will appoint an individual known as the Executor to control the estate.
Usually, a surviving spouse will be the one who receives the estate. If there is no spouse, then the estate will be distributed to children. If there is no children, then the state will look to other adult members of the family. Otherwise, the state can take control of the goods.