Illinois Rules for Intestate Succession: No Will? Now What?

Discussing a Document

If a person dies leaving no will, the probate court follows the state’s rules for Intestate Succession. The following is a summary of the rules for distributing their assets in the state of Illinois.


  1. If you die with a spouse but no descendants, then the spouse inherits everything
  2. If you die with descendants but no spouse, then the descendants inherit everything
  3. If you die with a spouse and descendants, then the spouse inherits 1/2 of your intestate property and your descendants inherit 1/2 of your intestate property
  4. If you die with parents but no spouse, descendants, or siblings, then the parents inherit everything
  5. If you die with siblings but no spouse, descendants, or parents, then the siblings inherit everything
  6. If you die with parents and siblings but no spouse or descendants, then the parents and siblings inherit your intestate property in equal shares (except that if only one parent is living, that parent gets a double share)
  7. If you die with no spouse, descendants, parents, siblings, or descendants of brothers and sisters (nieces and nephews), then your intestate property is split equally between the maternal and paternal sides of the family.
  8. If you die with no one, then everything is left to the State of Illinois.

There are exceptions.

These rules only apply to property (personal and real) that is not jointly held with a spouse (or another person) and does not have a named beneficiary. If you have a spouse and have children from a different person, the spouse will be entitled to their elective share of the estate. The spousal award is currently $20,000.

If you have a case that involves children from a relationship other than your current spouse, it is often a very good idea to get an attorney involved early on, to make sure assets are divided the way you want.

If you’ve lost a loved one and are in the middle of the long and oftentimes confusing probate process, we invite you to request a consultation with one of our experienced probate attorneys. We would be happy to help you work through the process.

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