What is Intestate?

Legal Definition
A person is said to have died intestate if he or she dies without a valid will. See Reed v. Reed, 404 U.S. 71 (1971).

See also:
  • Estates and Trusts
  • Estate Planning
Legal Definition
One who, having lawful power to make a will, has made none, or one which is defective in form. In that case, he is said to die intestate, and his estate descends to his heir at law. See Testate.

2. This term comes from the Latin intestatus. Formerly, it was used in France indiscriminately with de-confess; that is, without confession. It was regarded as a crime, on account of the omission of the deceased person to give something to the church, and was punished by privation of burial in consecrated ground. This omission, according to Fournel, Hist. des Avocats, vol. 1, p. 116, could be repaired by making an ampliative testament in the name of the deceased. See Vely, tom. 6, page 145; Henrion De Pansey, Authorite Judiciare, 129 and note. Also, 3 Mod. Rep. 59, 60, for the Law of Intestacy in England.
-- Bouviers Law Dictionary
Legal Definition
Without making a will. A person is said to die intestate when he dies without making a will or dies without leaving anything to testify what his wishes were with respect to the disposal of his property after his death. The word is also often used to signify the person himself. Thus, in speaking of the property of a person who died intestate, it is common to say "the intestate's property;" i. e., the property of the person dying in an intestate condition. Brown. See In re Cameron's Estate, 47 App. Div. 120, 62 N. Y. Supp. 187; Messmann v. Egenberger, 46 App. Div. 46, 61 N. Y. Supp. 556; Code Civ. Proc. N. Y. 1889, ยง 2514, subd. 1. Besides the strict meaning of the word as above given, there is also a sense in which intestacy may be partial; that is, where a man leaves a will which does not dispose of his whole estate, he is said to "die intestate" as to the property so omitted. See Intestate succession.
-- Black's Law Dictionary
Legal Definition
A person who dies without leaving a valid will. See 21 Idaho, 258, 39 L. R. A. (N. S.) 1107, Ann. Cas. 1913D, 492, 121 Pac. 544.
-- Ballentine's Law Dictionary