Wills, Trusts, and Estates
To distribute property when there are no first-line collaterals, a minority of states use a degree-of-relationship system.
Under a degree-of-relationship system, the estate goes to the relative with the fewest degrees of relationship.
E.g, a great-grandparent would be chosen over a first cousin because a great-grandparent only requires 3 degrees of relationship (all up), while a first cousin requires 4 (2 up and 2 down).
Degree of Relationship
Degree of relationship is a method of measuring how related people are by counting the number of parental links that must be traversed, up or down, to reach someone.
- Parents – 1
- Siblings – 2 (up to parent, then down to sibling)
- Grandparents – 2 (up to parent, then up to grandparent)
- Uncles/Aunts – 3 (up to parent, then up to grandparent, then down to uncle/aunt)
- First Cousins – 4 (up to parent, then up to grandparent, then down to uncle/aunt, then down to cousin)
- Great-grandparents – 3 (up to parent, then up to grandparent, then up to great-grandparent)
- First Cousins Once Removed (either direction) – 5
- Second Cousins – 6
- Fifth Cousins Twice Removed (either direction) – 12
There are variations on this, such as using degree of relationship but breaking ties with a parentelic system.