When a decedent passes with a will, it is known as passing testate, and when a decedent passes without a will, it is known as passing intestate.
State laws prioritize both who can be the personal representative and who will inherit from an intestate estate.
Of course, state laws can vary, but the general order for both administrators and heirs is:
- The surviving spouse of the decedent
- Any surviving children, or the offspring of any predeceased children
- Parents of the decedent
- Siblings of the decedent or the offspring of any predeceased siblings
- Grandparents of the decedent
- Aunts and uncles of the decedent (and any other extended family)
Check out this Learn Center article: Dying Without a Will — What Happens?