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Heir at Law


Definition: A person who is entitled to inherit the estate of someone who fails to make a valid Last Will and Testament.

Who is considered a deceased person's "heir at law" is determined by the intestacy laws of the state where the person lives at the time of death. In addition, if real estate or tangible personal property is owned outside of the deceased person's home state, then the intestacy laws of the state where the out of state property is located will govern how that property will be distributed. This may result in a different set of beneficiaries or different shares among the same beneficiaries with regard to the beneficiaries of the deceased person's property located in their home state versus the beneficiaries of their out of state property.

How to Open a Probate Estate

Also Known As: Intestate Heir

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