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The word 'heir' refers to a person who is entitled to inherit property from someone who has passed away. Heir originates from the Latin words, heres and hered. These words are related to the Greek word, ch─ôros, meaning 'suffering the death of a loved one'.

Typically, an heir is named within decedents Last Will and Testament or Living Trust. Property which heirs are entitled to is described within the Will. Inheritance property can consist of financial portfolios, real estate holdings, businesses, and personal property such as jewelry, clothing, artwork, collectables, automobiles and household furnishings

In most cases, heirs are direct lineage relatives of the decedent, such as children, grandchildren, sisters and brothers. However, anyone can be named as an heir to an estate. Many people have no family relatives to bequeath their belongings. Others have disinherited their family members. The decedent can designate whomever they desire as the heir to their estate.

Unless the decedent executed a living trust, everything within the estate must be transferred to probate. Probate is the legal process used to ensure assets are distributed according to probate laws. If the decedent dies intestate (without a Will), the probate court must determine the rightful heirs.

Probate estates are managed by an Estate Administrator. The Administrator is designated within the decedent's Will or assigned by the probate judge. Their duties include taking inventory of the decedent's assets and personal belongings; handling financial affairs; overseeing the sale of real estate; and proper distribution of assets to beneficiaries and heirs.

In the best situations, the probate process usually takes six to nine months to complete. If family disputes arise or if the decedent did not execute a Will; probate can potentially drag on for years.

There are two types of property that can be gifted to heirs - Specific Gifts and General Gifts. Specific gifts include personal items such as jewelry, clothing, heirlooms and collectables. General gifts refer to items which remain after specific gifts are distributed. In most cases, general gifts consist of the bulk of the estate.

Certain property and financial assets cannot be distributed to heirs through the decedent's Will. These include individual retirement accounts, life insurance policy proceeds, payable-on-death bank accounts, and real estate held in Joint Tenancy.

Any heir entitled to inheritance held in probate can obtain cash for inheritance through a funding source. This can be beneficial to heirs who require a lump sum of cash for investment purposes or to pay off outstanding debts. If you are currently awaiting probate and in need of cash, contact Simon Volkov today to discover what options are available.

While you are here, please take a moment to browse our heir and probate article library. We provide numerous articles on estate planning, inheritance, Wills, probate and much more.