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Who Are the Legal Heirs of a Deceased Person in USA?

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By Anaya Taylor
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The legal heirs of a deceased person in USA are the people who are entitled to inherit a deceased person’s property if they are related to the decedent. This can include blood relatives, their surviving spouse (if applicable), and any adopted children or grandchildren.

Heirs are also the beneficiaries of a deceased person’s estate. This can include real property, cash, stocks, bonds, or other intangible assets.

Usually, a person’s heirs are the closest living relatives. They can be children, grandchildren, parents, siblings, grandparents, nieces and nephews, or aunts and uncles.

If you have lost a loved one and need help figuring out who is an heir, we recommend that you seek the guidance of a skilled attorney. Lawyers who practice in the areas of trusts and estates, real estate law, or business law can help you identify your heirs and ensure that they receive their inheritance.

First, you need to look at the decedent’s spouse and their children. If there are no children, the next heirs-at-law would be the decedent’s parents, or if those parents died, the grandparents who were living at the time of death.

Once you have identified the immediate family members who are heirs at law, it’s time to figure out which of them will be the Personal Representative of the deceased’s estate. This person will have to be at least 18 years old and not disqualified by any other reason.

It’s important to note that, if you want a Personal Representative who is not the deceased’s surviving spouse or a child of the deceased, you may need to file a petition for appointment in the Probate Court.

The Personal Representative has a duty to keep the estate’s beneficiaries informed of their responsibilities and any changes in the way the estate is being managed. If the Personal Representative does not comply with this duty, you have a right to compel him or her to do so.

A Personal Representative must also act in the best interests of the estate. This means that the Personal Representative must perform his or her duties fully, honestly, and without favoritism. If he or she does not, you may have a right to sue in a court of law for damages and recoup some of the fees that the Personal Representative has accrued while administering the estate.

In addition, the Personal Representative must make a diligent search for all potential heirs and gather all records that can be used to confirm their identity. This includes such things as handwritten birth and death records, family bibles, and other documents.

Moreover, the Personal Representative has a duty to follow state laws regarding heirship and succession. These can differ from state to state, but the general rule is that if the deceased was married, the surviving spouse gets the largest share of the estate.

In the absence of a will, states have default laws that determine the order in which heirs receive the deceased’s assets and property. These rules vary based on the state, but they generally follow a list of heirs that follows spouses – children – descendants – close relatives.

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