INTESTATE. One who, having lawful power to make a will, has made none, or one which is defective in form. In that case, he is said to die intestate, and his estate descends to his heir at law. See Testate.
2. This term comes from the Latin intestatus. Formerly, it was used in France indiscriminately with de-confess; that is, without confession. It was regarded as a crime, on account of the omission of the deceased person to give something to the church, and was punished by privation of burial in consecrated ground. This omission, according to Fournel, Hist. des Avocats, vol. 1, p. 116, could be repaired by making an ampliative testament in the name of the deceased. See Vely, tom. 6, page 145; Henrion De Pansey, Authorite Judiciare, 129 and note. Also, 3 Mod. Rep. 59, 60, for the Law of Intestacy in England.