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.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan

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.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan
Who Is Legally the Next of Kin?

References

Related articles

Difference Between Heir & Legatee

What Can I Do if the Executor of the Estate Doesn't Pay Me as an Heir?

Does the Executor of a Will Have to Use an Attorney to Execute the Will?

LegalZoom. Legal help is here. Start Here. Wills. Trusts. Attorney help.

Related articles

How to Execute a Last Will and Testament

Types of Heirs

Probate Laws on the Next of Kin

Death Without a Will in Michigan

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED