Estate Law on Heirs

By Teo Spengler

The term "heir apparent" is sometimes used to signify the person chosen to succeed the boss in a business, but this distorts the legal meaning. An heir is a person who inherits property after a death if the decedent did not leave a will. In all states, surviving spouses and children top the list.

The term "heir apparent" is sometimes used to signify the person chosen to succeed the boss in a business, but this distorts the legal meaning. An heir is a person who inherits property after a death if the decedent did not leave a will. In all states, surviving spouses and children top the list.

Making a Will

If you make a will, you get to determine who will inherit your property when you die. In the United States, you can generally leave your property to any person or institution of your choosing. Those inheriting under your will are termed beneficiaries or devisees.

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Dying Without a Will

If you die without a will, state laws on intestate succession determine who inherits your property. Although the laws differ among jurisdictions, a surviving spouse generally takes all or part of the estate and the decedent's children are next in line. Those inheriting under the intestate succession laws are termed heirs.

Probating an Estate

In most cases, an estate that passes by intestate succession goes through probate, a process of administering the estate that is supervised by the courts. The court appoints an administrator who locates assets, pays the decedent's bills and ultimately distributes the property among heirs.

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Dissolving an Estate in Texas

References

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Missing Heir Statute for Connecticut

When a person dies and his estate goes through probate, one of the duties of the executor or administrator of the estate is to notify all of the beneficiaries or heirs of the deceased. When there is a will, any money remaining in the estate after debts and expenses are paid go to the named beneficiaries. But when a person doesn't leave a will, the heirs inherit the remaining assets of the estate. A 2011 revision to the Connecticut Code puts the burden on a missing heir to come forward or risk being considered dead.

What Happens With Probate After a Homeowner Dies Without a Will?

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Types of Heirs

In general, an heir is a person who is entitled to inherit all or part of a deceased person’s estate. However, in legal terms, heir has a narrower meaning. The term "heir” specifically refers to a person who inherits assets from the estate of a person who died without a will. There are two major types of heirs.

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