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Heir Apparent is Next in Line

Heir apparent refers to direct lineage descendents of a person who holds real estate, financial assets and valuable personal property. As long as the heir apparent outlives the property holder, by law they are entitled to inherit assets upon the property holder's death.

Typically, an heir apparent consists of children born to the decedent. If the decedent did not have children, the next closest lineal relative would become the heir apparent. For instance, if the decedent has no children, but has parents, siblings, aunts, uncles or cousins, the decedent's assets would transfer to the closest living relative.

In instances where the decedent has a child who has passed away and had children, the grandchildren would be designated as heir apparent. If there are no direct lineal heirs, the closest living relative of the decedent will inherit the estate. In cases where no heirs exist, the decedent's assets are transferred to the state. Assets are held for a period of years than sold to the public through state or county auctions.

The decedent can disinherit any heir apparent by providing direction through their Last Will and Testament. Depending on how the estate is arranged, a disinherited heir apparent can legally contest the Will. Therefore, careful verbiage must be included in the Will, with detailed explanation for disinheritance.

Property is gifted to heir apparent through a Last Will and Testament or Revocable Living Trust. A trust is the only ironclad way to ensure your wishes will be granted upon your death. Additionally, having a trust keeps your Will private and away from prying eyes. Wills must be filed with the Probate Court and become public record. Wills included inside a trust are private and not subject to probate laws.

When estates are under a certain amount, there are ways to distribute your property and avoid probate. However, these measures still require filing considerable paperwork and dealing with government beauracracy in order to distribute funds. Using a trust eliminates the hassle and expedites closing of the estate.

Having a trust still requires execution of a Last Will and Testament. The Will allows you to gift specific items to heir apparent. Gifts are categorized as specific or general. Specific gifts include family heirlooms, jewelry, art, collectibles, etc. General gifts consist of whatever is not specifically gifted and include household furnishings, appliances, electronics, etc.

If no Will exists, the heir apparent is legally entitled to their portion of the decedent's estate. Before property and assets can be transferred to heir apparent, it must first pass through Probate. This can be a slow, painful and costly process depending on the circumstances, size of the estate and family dynamics.

Occasionally, an heir apparent is accidentally omitted from the decedent's Will. When this occurs, an heir apparent is referred to as a Pretermitted Heir. In these instances, pretermitted heirs are legally entitled to receive equal portions of the decedent's estate.

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Published on July 26, 2008 at 08:06 PM

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