Intestate Succession in Nebraska

What happens if you die without a will? Learn about intestacy in Nebraska.

Updated by , Attorney · George Mason University Law School

If you die without a will in Nebraska, your assets will go to your closest relatives under state "intestate succession" laws. Here are some details about how intestate succession works in Nebraska.

Which Assets Pass by Intestate Succession

Only assets that pass through probate are affected by intestate succession laws. Many valuable assets don't go through probate and therefore aren't affected by intestate succession laws. Here are some examples:

  • property you've transferred to a living trust
  • life insurance proceeds with a named beneficiary
  • funds in an IRA, 401(k), or other retirement account with a named beneficiary
  • securities held in a transfer-on-death account
  • real estate for which you have a transfer on death deed
  • vehicles for which you have a transfer on death registration
  • payable-on-death bank accounts, or
  • property you own with someone else in joint tenancy or tenancy by the entirety.

These assets will pass to the surviving co-owner or to the beneficiary you named, whether or not you have a will. However, if you don't have a will and none of the named beneficiaries are alive to take the property, then the property could end up being transferred according to intestate succession.

To learn more about these types of assets, go to the How to Avoid Probate section of or read about Avoiding Probate in Nebraska.

Who Gets What in Nebraska?

Under intestate succession, who gets what depends on whether or not you have living children, parents, or other close relatives when you die. Here's a quick overview:

If you die with:

here's what happens:

children but no spouse children inherit everything
spouse but no descendants or parents spouse inherits everything
spouse and descendants from you and that spouse spouse inherits the first $100,000 of your intestate property, plus 1/2 of the balance

your descendants inherit everything else
spouse and at least one descendant from you and someone other than that spouse spouse inherits 1/2 of your intestate property

descendants inherit everything else
spouse and parents spouse inherits the first $100,000 of your intestate property, plus 1/2 of the balance

parents inherit remaining intestate property
parents but no spouse or descendants parents inherit everything
siblings but no spouse, descendants, or parents siblings inherit everything

(Neb. Rev. Stat. §§ 30-2302; 30-2303 (2023).)

The Spouse's Share in Nebraska

In Nebraska, if you are married and you die without a will, what your spouse gets depends on whether or not you have living parents or descendants -- children, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren. If you don't, then your spouse inherits all of your intestate property. If you do, they and your spouse will share your intestate property as follows:

If you die with parents but no descendants. Your surviving spouse inherits the first $100,000 of your intestate property, plus 1/2 of the balance. (Neb. Rev. Stat. § 30-2302 (2023).)

Example: Gerry is married to Joe, and her father is still alive. Gerry owns a house in joint tenancy with Joe, and Joe is also the named beneficiary of Gerry's retirement account. When Gerry dies, Joe automatically inherits the house and any remaining retirement funds; those things are not intestate property. Gerry also has $300,000 worth of additional property that would have passed under a will if she had made one. Joe inherits $200,000 worth of that property – that is, $100,000 plus $100,000 worth of the remaining $200,000. Gerry's father inherits $100,000.

If you die with children or other descendants from you and the surviving spouse. Your surviving spouse inherits the first $100,000 of your intestate property, plus 1/2 of the balance. (Neb. Rev. Stat. § 30-2302 (2023).)

Example: Bill is married to Karen, and they have two grown children. Bill and Karen own a large bank account in joint tenancy, and Bill took out a life insurance policy naming Karen as the beneficiary. When Bill dies, Karen receives the life insurance policy proceeds and inherits the bank account outright. Bill also owns $400,000 worth of other property that would have passed under a will, so Karen inherits $250,000 worth of that property – that is, $100,000 plus $150,000 of the remaining $300,000. The two children inherit $75,000 each.

If you die with at least one descendant who is not the descendant of your surviving spouse. Your spouse inherits 1/2 of your intestate property. (Neb. Rev. Stat. § 30-2302 (2023).)

Example: Barrett is married to Jed and also has a 12-year-old daughter from a previous marriage. Barrett owns a house in joint tenancy with Jed, plus $200,000 worth of additional, separate property that would have passed under a will if Barrett had made one. When Barrett dies, Jed inherits the house outright and $100,000 worth of Barrett's property. Barrett's daughter inherits the remaining $100,000 share of Barrett's property.

Children's Shares in Nebraska

If you die without a will in Nebraska, your children will receive an "intestate share" of your property. The size of each child's share depends on how many children you have, whether or not you are married, and whether they are also your spouse's children. (See the table above.)

For children to inherit from you under the laws of intestacy, the state of Nebraska must consider them your children, legally. For many families, this is not a confusing issue. But it's not always clear. Here are some things to keep in mind.

  • Adopted children. Children you legally adopted will receive an intestate share, just as your biological children do. (Neb. Rev. Stat. § 30-2309 (2023).)
  • Foster children and stepchildren. Foster children and stepchildren you never legally adopted will not automatically receive a share.
  • Children placed for adoption. Children you placed for adoption and who were legally adopted by another family will not receive a share. However, if your biological children were adopted by your spouse, that won't affect their intestate inheritance. (Neb. Rev. Stat. § 30-2309 (2023).)
  • Posthumous children. Children conceived by you but not born before your death will receive a share. (Neb. Rev. Stat. § 30-2308 (2023).)
  • Children born outside of marriage. If you were not married to your children's mother when she gave birth to them, they may receive a share of your estate if (1) you participated in a marriage ceremony that later turned out to be void, or (2) a court established your paternity before or after your death. (Neb. Rev. Stat. § 30-2309 (2023).)
  • Children born during your marriage. Any child born to your wife during your marriage is assumed to be your child and will receive a share of your estate. (Neb. Rev. Stat. § 30-2309 (2023).)
  • Grandchildren. A grandchild will receive a share only if that grandchild's parent (your son or daughter) is not alive to receive his or her share. (Neb. Rev. Stat. § 30-2306 (2023).)

If you want to read the law, Nebraska Statutes § § 30-2308 and 30-2309 cover parent-child relationships.

This can be a tricky area of the law, so if you have questions about your relationship to your parent or child, get help from an experienced attorney.

Will the State Get Your Property?

If you die without a will and don't have any family, your property will "escheat" into the state's coffers. (Neb. Rev. Stat. § 30-2305 (2023).)

However, this very rarely happens because the laws are designed to get your property to anyone who was even remotely related to you. For example, your property won't go to the state if you leave a spouse, children, grandchildren, parents, grandparents, siblings, nieces, nephews, or cousins.

Other Nebraska Intestate Succession Rules

Here are a few other things to know about Nebraska intestacy laws.

  • Survivorship period. To inherit under Nebraska's intestate succession statutes, a person must outlive you by 120 hours. So, if you and your brother are in a car accident and he dies a few hours after you do, his estate would not receive any of your property. (Neb. Rev. Stat. § 30-2304 (2023).)
  • Half-relatives. "Half" relatives inherit as if they were "whole." That is, your sister with whom you share a father, but not a mother, has the same right to your property as she would if you had both parents in common. (Neb. Rev. Stat. § 30-2307 (2023).)
  • Posthumous relatives. Relatives conceived before -- but born after -- you die inherit as if they had been born while you were alive, as long as they survive at least 120 hours after birth. (Neb. Rev. Stat. § 30-2308 (2023).)
  • Immigration status. Relatives entitled to an intestate share of your property will inherit whether or not they are citizens or legally in the United States. (Neb. Rev. Stat. § 30-2312 (2023).)
  • Advancements. If you give a relative a gift during your lifetime, the value of this gift is subtracted from your relative's share only if you put in writing at the time of making the gift that it's an advancement or your relative admits in writing that it's an advancement. (Neb. Rev. Stat. § 30-2310 (2023).)

Learn More

To learn more about intestate succession, read How an Estate Is Settled If There's No Will.

You can find Nebraska's intestate succession law here: Nebraska Statutes § § 30-2301 to 30-2312.

For more about estate planning, go to the Wills, Trusts & Probate section of

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