When a person passes away, a court will follow the decedent's will to determine how to divide his or her assets or property. For example, the decedent may direct that a personal residence, automobile, furniture, furnishings, household items, clothing and jewelry be given to a particular family member or friend.

Sometimes, a person may die before he has had a chance to prepare a will. In such an instance, the person died intestate and the state will divide his property according to its laws of intestate succession.