Generally the children are entitled to an equal division of inherited property, and descendants of a deceased child take the deceased child's share. In the event there are no surviving relatives, the land " escheats " or becomes property of the state.
The state has the right to impose inheritance and gift taxes as well as to alter the normal line of descent, if it is deemed in the best interest of public welfare. Furthermore, possession by virtue of inheritance may entail a responsibility on the part of the heirs to pay debts imposed upon the previous owner, and on occasion, possession may be lost when all of the property is used to pay outstanding debts.
When a property owner dies intestate (leaving no will), state laws will prescribe the order of property distribution among survivors. Frequently this order of succession is in keeping with the traditonal pattern of inheritance established by early landowners. Nevertheless, a landowner need not conform to the traditional pattern. In fact, it might be more desirable from a farm business standpoint to make sure that the farm remains intact as a functional business unit. Too frequently it is divided among surviving children and heir of children already deceased. The resulting multiple ownership of land usually restricts farm operations because mutual agreement from all parties is frequently required. It is more likely that the individual demands will necessitate either dividing the farm into smaller tracts or selling the farm and dividing the returns.