If you die without a valid will while residing in the State of Vermont, you are said to have died "intestate." In order to determine who will receive your property if you die intestate, the State of Vermont has established a number of laws (known as "intestacy laws" or "laws of intestate succession.") The primary statutes comprising these intestacy laws, or laws of intestate succession, are set forth below. For a more complete list, see Vermont Intestacy Laws | Intestate Succession statutes.
§ 551. General rules of descent
The real and personal estate of a decedent, not devised nor bequeathed and not otherwise appropriated and distributed in pursuance of law, shall descend in the following manner:
(1) In equal shares to the children of such decedent or the legal representatives of deceased children;
(2) If the decedent is married and leaves no issue and the surviving spouse does not elect to take a third in value of the real estate of which the decedent dies seised in his or her own right, or waives the provisions of the will of such decedent, such spouse shall be entitled to the whole of the decedent's estate forever, if it does not exceed $25,000.00, but if it exceeds that sum, then such spouse shall be entitled to $25,000.00 and half the remainder. The remainder of such estate shall descend as the whole would if such spouse did not survive. If the decedent has no kindred who may inherit the estate, such spouse shall be entitled to the whole of such estate;
(3) If the decedent does not leave issue nor surviving spouse, the estate shall descend in equal shares to the father and mother of such decedent. If the mother is not living and the father survives, the estate shall descend to the father. If the father is not living and the mother survives, the estate shall descend to the mother;
(4) If the decedent does not leave issue, nor surviving spouse, nor father, nor mother, the estate shall descend in equal shares to the brothers and sisters of such decedent, and to the legal representatives of deceased brothers and sisters;
(5) If none of the kindred above-named survives the decedent, the estate shall descend in equal shares to the next of kin in equal degree; but a person shall not be entitled, by right of representation, to the share of such next of kin who has died.
§ 552. Degrees, how computed; kindred of half-blood
The degrees of kindred shall be computed according to the rules of the civil law and the kindred of the half-blood shall inherit equally with those of the whole blood, in the same degree.
§ 553. Illegitimate children; inheritance by and from
(a) An illegitimate child shall inherit from or through his mother as if born in lawful wedlock. The estate of an illegitimate person dying intestate and leaving no issue nor husband nor wife shall descend to the mother, and, if the mother is dead, through the line of the mother as if the person so dying were born in lawful wedlock.
(b) An illegitimate child shall inherit from or through his father as if born in lawful wedlock, under any of the following conditions:
(1) The father has been declared the putative father of the child under 15 V.S.A. § 306.
§ 554. Children legitimatized by parents' marriage
When the parents of an illegitimate child intermarry, the child shall be considered legitimate and be capable of inheriting, if recognized by the father as his child.
§ 555. Share of after-born child
When a child of a testator is born after the making of a will and provision is not therein made for him, such child shall have the same share in the estate of the testator as if such testator had died intestate. The share of such child shall be assigned to him as in case of intestate estates, unless it is apparent from the will that it was the intention of the testator that provision should not be made for such child.
§ 556. Share of child or issue of child omitted from will
When a testator omits to provide in his will for any of his children, or for the issue of a deceased child, and it appears that such omission was made by mistake or accident, such child or its issue shall have the same share of the estate of the testator as if he had died intestate, to be assigned as in case of intestate estates.
§ 557. Omitted or after-born child, from what part of estate share taken
When a share of a testator's estate is assigned to a child born after the making of a will, or to a child or the issue of a child omitted in the will, such share shall be taken first from the estate not disposed of by the will, if there is any. If that is not sufficient, so much as is necessary shall be taken from the devisees or legatees in proportion to the value of the estate they respectively receive under the will. If the obvious intention of the testator, as to some specific devise or legacy or other provision in the will, would thereby be defeated, such specific devise, legacy or provision may be exempted from such apportionment and a different apportionment adopted in the discretion of the court.
§ 558. Devisee dying before testator; issue to take
When a devise or legacy is made to a child or other kindred of the testator, and such devisee or legatee dies before the testator, leaving issue who survive the testator, such issue shall take the estate so given as the devisee or legatee would have taken if he had survived the testator, unless a different disposition is required by the will.
§ 559. Person absent and unheard of; share of
[Reference - Vermont Intestacy Laws | Intestate Succession].
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