In legal terms, if someone dies without having made a will, they're intestate. Your great aunt may have intended to leave all her money to her cats, but unfortunately for Flufferkins and Mr. Wiggles, she died intestate.

Like a lot of legal words, it might seem more straightforward to simply say, "without a will," but lawyers like to use Latin whenever possible. Intestate comes from the Latin intestatus, "without a will," from the root testari, "bear witness," which it shares with testament. When someone with a lot of money or property dies intestate, it can complicate things for the relatives they leave behind — it's not clear who gets what.

Definitions of intestate

adj having made no legally valid will before death or not disposed of by a legal will

“he died intestate
intestate property”
having made a legally valid will before death

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