An heir is a person who is entitled to inherit a portion of the estate of the decedent. Heirship can become somewhat complicated when the decedent dies without a will. In any case where a will does not exist or does exist but must be probated, it is useful to hire a Kingwood estate lawyer to assist with the complexities of the process.
Heirship and Intestate Succession
Should a person die without a will but is succeeded by a spouse, because Texas is a community property state the spouse will likely inherit the full estate. However, if no spouse is alive at the time of death, the question of who inherits from the will follows a formula.
Dying intestate means that the decedent did not leave a legal will at the time of his death. In some cases this can make for the settling of an estate quite complicated, depending upon its size. The state has set up guidelines to help settle such estates:
- The spouse is the first person who is entitled to inherit under the community property law. The spouse may under certain circumstances inherit some of the estate previously held by the deceased as well.
- The children are next in line for receiving a portion of the estate.
- Grandchildren and great-grandchildren are then the next individuals to receive a portion of the estate.
What all of these individuals have in common is that they are direct descendants of the deceased. It is worth noting that when the parent dies intestate and there is no surviving spouse the estate is divided equally among the children.
Collateral heirs, by contrast, are relatives but are not direct descendants of the decedent. Such individuals include parents, grandparents, sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews, cousins, aunts, uncles, second-cousins, etc. Collateral heirs receive a portion of the estate when the deceased left no spouse, children, or grandchildren. A step-child of the decedent will be regarded in the same way as a biological child provided the deceased adopted the child.
It should be kept in mind that sometimes people would prefer that no part of his estate is left to a particular relative. For this reason, and to keep from complications developing during probate, it is important that you have a legal will prepared and signed at all times.