What happens depends on whether or not the decedent was married at the time of death, whether or not the decedent had children, and whether those children are children of the spouse or not. A “descendant” is a child or grandchild or great-grandchild of the person who died.
Here are examples of how property is distributed in Vermont when someone dies without a will:
||How property is distributed
|If the decedent had a surviving spouse and had no children:
||The spouse will inherit all the assets.
|If the decedent had a surviving spouse and had children:
||If all the children are the children of both the decedent and the spouse, the spouse will inherit all the assets. If the decedent has children or grandchildren from another relationship (such as children from a previous marriage), the spouse will only get half of the assets. The rest will be divided among the descendants of the person who died. There is one exception: If the only significant property is a boat, snowmobile or all-terrain vehicle, the surviving spouse will become the owner.
|If the decedent had children but no surviving spouse:
||The assets will go to the children equally. If one of the children is dead, that person’s share will be split among their children.
|If the decedent did not have a spouse or children:
||The assets will go to the decedent’s next of kin in the following order:
- brothers and sisters, and if any brother or sister is dead, the children of that person will divide his or her share
- nieces and nephews
- other relatives
- if there are no living relatives, the assets will go to the town where the decedent lived at the time of death