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Law

What Are Heirs at Law? What Happens if You Are One

Have you ever wondered what would happen to your money and possessions if you died? Well, you are not alone. Many people ponder the issue of succession and succession planning.

Many believe that the only people able to inherit an estate are the decedent’s children. While children and stepchildren are the decedent’s best option for successors, a decedent can leave his or her estate to anyone he or she chooses.

Read on to learn about what heirs at law are and what it includes when you become a successor to an estate.

What Is an Heir at Law and Its Duties?

Heirs in law include someone who is entitled to inherit property from another person. If you are an heir at law, you may inherit property from the person who died without leaving a will. If the person who died left a will, you may still inherit property if the will does not name an heir.

The duties of an heir at law include attending to the funeral arrangements, paying any debts of the deceased person, and distributing the assets of the estate according to the will or, if there is no will, according to the laws of intestate succession.

You may need to hire a probate attorney to help you navigate the legal process of claiming your inheritance. The probate process can be complex, and a probate attorney can help you understand your rights and responsibilities.

The Consequences and How to Avoid Having an Heir at Law

If you are an heir in law, you may be entitled to a part of the deceased person’s estate. Yet, you may not be able to inherit certain types of property, such as life insurance proceeds or retirement benefits. You may be responsible for paying the deceased person’s debts.

You may have to go through the probate process to receive your inheritance. You can avoid having an heir at law by executing a valid will that disposes of your property under your wishes.

Difference Between Heir and Beneficiary

A beneficiary is someone who is named in a will or other legal document to receive property from someone who has died. If a person dies without a will, the person’s heirs-in-law will inherit the property.

Heirs-at-law is determined by state laws of interstate succession.

How to Find Out if You Are Among the Heirs at Law

If you have a close relationship with the deceased person, such as being a spouse, child, or sibling, then you are likely heir at law. Yet, even if you were not close with the deceased, you may still be an heir at law if you are a relative of the deceased person.

If you are an heir at law, you may have the privilege to some or all the deceased person’s property.

How to Handle It

If you are among the heirs at law, you will need to contact the estate administrator and let them know that you are entitled to part of the estate. The administrator will then distribute the estate according to the laws of intestate succession.

This can be a complicated process, so it’s important to hire an attorney to help you navigate the process and ensure that you get what you’re entitled to.

For more information read our educational blogs!

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