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What Is a Heir? Definition, Uses and Importance.

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Person entitled to inherit property of the decedent. An heir is a person who inherits or expects to inherit property from an ancestor. One of the primary examples would be that when someone’s father dies, they are their sole heirs and will receive all his assets as well as any hereditary rank in society passed down through generations.

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.

Intestate Succession Laws That Effec Heirs

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
  • Parents
  • 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.

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.

An Heir is similar to a beneficiary

Both terms are used to designate the person who will be receiving an inheritance from a decedent’s estate if it is directly inherited or going through the probate process.

There can be more than one heir to an inheritance

Types of Heirs

Heir Apparent

This is the person logically to have rights to receive assets. The claim cannot be discounted because another heir is born. The heir apparent is the first person in line for the succession order.

Presumptive Heir

The presumptive heir is someone who is entitled to an inheritance, but their right may be displaced.

Adoptive Heir

Most of the time, an adoptive heir has the same legal right as biological children. Some states have intestate laws that may block adopted children from an equal share of the estate. That’s why it’s crucial to speak to an attorney regarding your state laws.

Collateral Heir

This is a blood relative of the deceased, but not a direct descendant. For example, it may be siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, or another family member.

Who is a Beneficiary?

A beneficiary is a person who’s legally named to receive property from an estate. Naming beneficiaries in your Will helps to ensure all your assets go to the people you want them to go to. For instance, if you want to leave property to your grandchild, naming them as the beneficiary in the will supersedes succession order. Without it, the property could go to their parents instead.

If you have strained relationships with your kids and don’t want them to inherit anything, you must have a will in place. Despite the fact that they are your closest heirs, they won’t be legally entitled to claim assets, as long as the will states that they must go elsewhere.

There is an exception for spousal rights, however. If a parent has a will stipulating that all the assets should be divided among the children but remarries without amending the will to include the spouse: spousal rights give the surviving spouse the ability to claim a percentage of assets even though they aren’t listed in the will.

This has to do with community property laws that state any income (or debt), real property, or personal property acquired during the marriage is the property of both spouses, no matter who earns or spends the income. These state laws vary as well, making legal counsel all that more important.

Heir vs Beneficiary

The main difference is that an heir is a close relative in line to receive an inheritance from your estate if you die without a proper estate plan in place. A beneficiary is someone you name with legal documents, to receive your assets upon your death.

If you do not legally name beneficiaries before your death, the state intestacy law, not your last wishes, dictates what happens to your assets. If you want close friends, rather than blood relatives, to have access to your estate, you must name them as beneficiaries. They would not be heirs.

Some assets, such as a life insurance policy, require you to name a beneficiary. This may also be the next of kin but doesn’t have to be. The life insurance funds will always go to the named beneficiary.

Heirs can be beneficiaries – but not all beneficiaries are heirs.

FAQ’s For Heirs and Heiresses

Can You Contest a Will or Estate Plan?

Yes, any heir who has a valid interest in the estate has the right to contest a relative’s estate plan. To contest means to legally question the last will and testament. For example, the signature may be forged or the deceased was under duress when drafting and signing the will.
To contest a will is not only time-consuming but also expensive. Always seek legal advice before attempting to contest a will.


Do You Have an Inheritance Stuck in Probate?

If your inheritance is in probate, it could be months or even years before the case is settled. If you need money now, it doesn’t help. Contact us today to find out how you can access money without needing to wait for probate.

Can an heir get a loan on their future inheritance?

Yes, an heir can qualify what’s referred to as an heir loan or if the probate process has started they can receive an inheritance advance.

What is the difference between an Hier and Heiress

An heir refers to a male and an heiress refers to a female. Both terms mean the same thing and refer to someone that will inherit assets from a decedent.

Who can be an heir or heiress?

Heirs may be direct blood relatives such as children, siblings or parents. The most direct heir is often the surviving spouse but there are other possibilities too! An heir can also refer to adopted kids who would inherit if no close relative could be found-they’re called “nearby heirs”.

An Heir Can Get A Loan on an estate in probate

An heir can receive a loan or a cash advance on inheritance that is tied up in the probate process. Heir loans are difficult loans to receive and come with high-interest payments. As a result, many heirs opt to receive a cash advance since it is quick and easy to obtain.

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If you are an Heir or Executor to an Estate, You Don’t Have To Wait For Probate!

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Inheritance Advanced is an inheritance funding company, not a lender. We offer Inheritance Cash Advances which are a new and innovative option for heirs to receive the immediate cash they need during challenging times. This program allows an heir the benefit of receiving immediate money, in exchange for their future inheritance.

Inheritance advances are a way for heirs to receive immediate funds without providing credit or employment verification and they don’t require collateral. You also will not be responsible for high monthly interest payments like probate loans or inheritance loans.