It depends on the law of intestate succession in your state. Try googling "intestate succession in ____" and then type in the state you are curious about. Often, however, states will provide that the spouse gets a certain percentage and the deceased's children will inherit a certain percentage "per stirpes". Now, the children can waive any rights they have to the property - you'd have to contact your local county clerk and find out what that county requires. The statement would probably need to be notarized and then filed with the court. Also, if there's no children, the deceased's parents (if living) and/or any siblings may have intestate claims to the property. Again, check the state's estate code provisions -- or call the county clerk and see if they can tell you where in the codes to find it - then google it. -- One last point, just because someone dies without a will does not mean there's no inheritance tax due or that you don't have to open an estate with the county clerk's office. In that case, there will be a number of fees: various filing fees, fees for notices printed in the newspapers, any inheritance taxes due, etc. If this sounds too confusing, you can call your local county bar association and ask for a referral to an attorney who handles estate work - get a 30 minute appointment and ask your questions for a small fee.