Business Law

What Are Your Rights as the Surviving Heir to an Estate?

Woman signing a paper

After the death of a family member, their heirs may have many questions about their rights. Several factors influence these rights, but it is important to understand your legal position.

  • Dying Intestate.  If your family member died without a will, then the decedent’s property will pass under the laws of intestacy. The intestate statute in Virginia provides for the division of the descendant’s assets in accordance with clearly identified categories of blood relatives. If you are related to the decedent by blood, you may be entitled to the distribution of assets from the estate
  • Dying Testate. If your family member died with a will and you are named in that document, then you have clearly defined rights associated with being a beneficiary. Additionally, in certain circumstances, heirs, who are not named as beneficiaries in a will, may be able to obtain additional information if the will was executed under suspicious circumstances.
  • Information. Whether your family member died with or without a will, as an heir, you may be entitled to information regarding the administration of the estate. Virginia requires executors to maintain and file records associated with the assets of an estate. As an heir, you may be entitled to copies of this information.
  • Notice. In addition to being entitled to certain information, as an heir, you may also be entitled to receive notice when certain events occur during the administration of the estate.
  • Surviving Spouses. If your spouse has passed away, you have rights as the surviving spouse whether or not you are named in the will. Virginia ensures that a surviving spouse, under most circumstances, will receive a portion of the deceased spouse’s estate regardless of the contents of a will.

If you are the heir of a deceased family member and have questions about your legal rights, contact a trusts and estates attorney at Poole Brooke Plumlee to discuss your specific situation and ensure that you are protected.


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