An heir is someone who’s legally entitled to a portion of estate property. Heirs are generally family members. While many of them are blood relatives, heirs can also be surviving spouses or adopted children.
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Types of Heirs
- Heir Apparent: The person most likely to receive an inheritance – typically the next of kin. This is usually the spouse or surviving children.
- Presumptive Heir: This is the person who may be the most likely to receive the inheritance as an heir, but may not receive it because a closer relative is found.
- Adoptive Heir: This is an adopted child. In most states, the adopted child has the same legal rights as a biological child. Foster children, however, are not considered adoptive heirs unless the children are legally adopted. Check your state law to be safe. If you’ve adopted a child who won’t have the same rights as your biological children, you’ll have to name them as the beneficiary (legal recipient) so they can receive assets.
- Collateral Heirs: A collateral heir is someone who is a family member, but not a direct descendant. They can be siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, etc. They generally receive property when someone dies without a spouse, children, or surviving parents.
Don’t Wait for Probate
Advice for heirs when going through the probate process
If you’re the executor or heir, make sure that you have a lawyer to make sure that everybody in the family or all of the heirs are on the same page and communicate. Probate is a hard time for everybody involved. It’s not only hard from the fact of going through a probate process you may not understand as it’s a legal process that you’ve never been through. But it’s also an emotional time.
What Happens When Someone Dies Without a Will?
If a person dies without a will in place, that’s known as dying intestate. This also applies when an existing will is declared invalid for one reason or another. The deceased person’s estate goes to the probate court, where it follows the state’s intestacy laws.
Each state has different laws about intestate succession, which is why estate planning is so important. In some states, adopted children do not have the same legal right to inherit property as blood relatives. Generally speaking, though, it follows this path:
- Surviving spouse
- Adult children
- Adult siblings
- Other close relatives
It’s worth noting these succession laws only apply to property that can be passed through a will. Assets such as:
- Funds in a retirement account (401k, IRA, etc.)
- Life insurance payment
- Any property transferred to a living trust
- Anything held in transfer-on-death accounts (bank accounts, securities)
- Property owned with another person in joint tenancy
Pass directly to the named beneficiary, regardless of whether there’s a valid will in place or not. The deceased names the person entitled to receive the asset distribution when they open the retirement account, obtain life insurance, or create the living trust. While the deceased person is alive, they can change the
Is an Heir the Same Thing as a Beneficiary?
No, not exactly. An heir and a beneficiary have similar meanings but have some important differences. Understanding the difference between an heir and a beneficiary is crucial when it comes to estate planning.
An heir is someone who receives property from someone who dies intestate. A beneficiary is a person who receives property from someone, as named in a will, insurance policy, trust, or another legally binding agreement.
In some cases, an heir is a beneficiary – such as when a spouse names the surviving spouse as the beneficiary of a life insurance policy. But not all heirs are beneficiaries – such as when an estranged child is left out of the will and a close friend inherits property from an estate.
If you don’t want your property to automatically follow the line of intestate succession, speak to a law firm that specializes in estate planning. With proper legal advice, you can set things up so that the probate process will run as smoothly as possible after your death.
Rights Of Heirs
An assignment of inheritance is the legal transfer of rights from one person to another. An heir that has been named in a will has rights to the property that is legally designated for them. However, the government and creditors have right to settle their claims or taxes prior to distribution to heirs.
Other Words from heir
Synonyms for heir
- heir at law,
History Of Heirs
The term Heir originates from Middle English eir, eyre, heir, borrowed from Anglo-French heir, going back to Vulgar Latin *hērem, *hēre, taken as oblique forms (by declension reassignment). An heir is different from Heir property which is a legal term in the United States for land that is owned by two or more people, usually people with a common ancestor who has died without intestate or without leaving a will. Heir propertyis the leading cause of involuntary land loss among African Americans but also affects Latinx communities in the Southwest, Indigenous communities on reservations, and white communities in Appalachia. Heirs have been around since estates have been around and the history of estates dates back to the church and its clergy.
FAQ’s For Heirs and Heiresses
Who can be an heir or heiress?
What is the difference between an Hier and Heiress
Can an heir get a loan on their future inheritance?
Are You An Heir to an Estate Stuck in Probate?
Depending on the circumstances of the will and the size of the estate, you could be dealing with a time-consuming probate process. If you need access to your inheritance funds now, contact us today. We may be able to help you get money in your bank account in as little as 24 hours.