Laws of Intestacy


The Code of Alabama (Title 43, Chapter 8) specifies how intestate property is to be distributed if someone dies without a valid will or does not state how their property is to be disbursed in the will. If the spouse and children survive the deceased, they acquire the estate. If the deceased is not survived by a spouse or child, other family members are entitled to the deceased's assets, depending on their degree of kinship. The Code of Alabama also specifies that half-blood relatives (those who share only one biological parent with their siblings) are entitled to receive the same portion of the estate as if they are of whole-blood. The law states that adopted children are treated the same as biological children. It also provides protection for those born out of wedlock (paternity must be established, generally while the father is alive, if the person is a child of the father), those conceived before the deceased's death, and those with alien status. If no heir (anyone who is a descendant of the deceased's grandparents) survives the deceased, the estate is passed to the State.

Below is a table demonstrating the Code of Alabama's laws of intestacy (or laws of descent and distribution). While every situation is unique and may vary depending on marital status or debts incurred, this gives you an idea of how property is commonly disbursed.

  Spouse Children* Parents Siblings**
Spouse If there are no children or parents, spouse inherits entire estate. Spouse inherits first $50,000 in value plus 1/2 of the balance of the estate.

Children inherit remaining 1/2 of estate to share equally.
If there are no children, spouse inherits first $100,000 in value plus 1/2 of the balance.

Parents inherit remaining 1/2 to share equally.
If no children or parents, spouse inherits entire estate.
Children*   If there is no spouse, children inherit entire estate to share equally. If there is no spouse, children inherit entire estate to share equally. If there is no spouse, children inherit entire estate to share equally.
Parents     If there are no children or spouse, parents inherit entire estate to share equally. If there are no children or spouse, parents inherit entire estate to share equally.
Siblings**       If there are no children, parents, or spouse, siblings inherit entire estate to share equally.
*If a child dies prior to the deceased, his or her lineal descendants will share the interest.
**If a sibling dies prior to the deceased, his or her lineal descendants will share the interest.
If none of the above survive, grandparents, and then uncles and aunts follow in order of inheritance, followed down the line by order of kinship. If no heirs are found, the State gets the property.

Last Updated: Jun. 22, 2011

Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology | 202 Comer Hall | Auburn University | Auburn, Alabama 36849-5406 | ☎ (334) 844-4800 (Mon-Fri)
FAX (334) 844-5639 | Send comments to
Privacy | Copyright ©