In Indiana, there is generally no distinction between heirs at law and next of kin. Heirs at law next of kin under Indiana law are:
- Surviving spouse
- Nieces and nephews
- Aunts and uncles
“Intestate heirs” is another term used to describe heirs at law.
What Do Next of Kin Inherit Under Indiana Law?
In Indiana, next of kin intestate heirs inherit from a decedent’s estate if the decedent dies intestate (without a will). Whether you inherit as next of kin depends on the other survivors of the decedent.
Share of Intestate Estate
Surviving spouse only
100% of estate
Spouse and at least one child with spouse or grandchild of deceased child
– Spouse inherits ½ of estate
– Children or grandchildren evenly split remaining ½ of estate
Spouse and at least one child from previous relationship or grandchild of the deceased child
– Spouse inherits ½ of personal property
– Spouse inherits ¼ of real property, minus monetary claims made against the property
– Children or grandchildren evenly split balance
Spouse and parent(s), no children
– Spouse inherits ¾ of estate
– Parent(s) inherit ¼ of estate
Children, no spouse
Children split the estate evenly
Parents, no spouse and no children
Parents inherit estate
Parents and siblings only
Siblings and parents split the estate evenly, but minimum parent share is ¼ of the estate
Parents and deceased siblings only
Parents, nieces and nephews split the estate evenly, but minimum parent share is ¼ of the estate
No parents or siblings, children, or spouse
Nieces and nephews split the estate evenly
No nieces and nephews, parents, siblings, children, or spouse
Paternal and maternal grandparents split the estate evenly
No grandparents, nieces or nephews, parents, siblings, children, or spouse
Aunts and uncles split the estate evenly
No aunts and uncles, grandparents, nieces or nephews, parents, siblings, children, or spouse
Cousins split the estate evenly, per stirpes
The information in the chart can be found in Indiana Probate Code section 29-1-2-1.
Just because you are next of kin and an heir at law in Indiana, does not mean that there will be assets for you to inherit. Status as an heir at law matters when the estate is intestate, meaning the distribution of the assets is governed by Indiana law and not the terms of decedent’s will. So, if decedent died testate, the Indiana statutes will not come into play to determine the beneficiaries of the estate.
Additionally, just because someone dies intestate does not mean that they have probate assets. If a decedent died with no probate assets, then the intestate heirs next of kin have nothing to inherit from the estate. For example, a decedent who died owning only jointly titled property and bank accounts with pay on death beneficiaries would have no probate assets. See the Probate and Non-Probate Assets Chart.
A Parent’s Intestate Share In Indiana Is Forfeited If They Cause The Death Of The Other Parent
Under section 29-1-2-1-e, if a parent is the intestate heir of a deceased child, the parent may not receive the intestate share if the parent was convicted of causing the death of the child’s other parent by:
- voluntary manslaughter
- another criminal act, if the death does not result from the operation of a vehicle; or
- a crime in any other jurisdiction in which the elements of the crime are substantially similar to the elements of a crime listed in 1-3.
If a parent is disqualified from receiving an intestate share under this section, the estate of the deceased child shall be distributed as though the parent had predeceased the child.
An Indiana Spouse’s Share Of The Estate Is Forfeited For Adultery Or Abandonment
Indiana Probate Code section 29-2-14 provides that if a spouse has left the other and is living at the time of the other spouse’s death in adultery, then he or she shall take no part of the estate or trust of the deceased spouse.
Additionally, if a spouse has abandoned his or her spouse without just cause, he or she shall take no part of his or her estate or trust pursuant to section 29-1-2-15 of the Indiana Probate Code.
In this context, “abandonment” has been defined as: “The act of a husband or wife who leaves his or her consort willfully, without justification either in the consent or wrongful conduct of the other, and with an intention of causing a perpetual separation of the parties…” Griffith v. Patrick (In re Estate of Patrick), 958 N.E. 2d 1155.