When a loved one dies in California, it is often difficult to deal with the estate. This can be especially true if there is a contest about who is the rightful heir. If you find yourself in this situation, knowing how to handle it can be critical.
Who is an heir-at-law?
An heir-at-law is a person who would inherit the property of a deceased individual if there was no will. In most cases, the heir-at-law is determined by state law. Typically, the spouse, children and parents of the deceased are considered heirs-at-law. If there is no living spouse or child, the parents of the deceased are next in line. If there are no living parents, then siblings of the deceased would be the heirs-at-law.
What is the process for contesting an heirship claim?
The process for contesting an heirship claim can vary from state to state. However, there are some general steps that you can expect. First, the person who’s challenging the heirship claim must file a petition with the court. The petitioner may then need to provide evidence to support their case. This evidence can include documents like birth certificates and death certificates as well as testimony from witnesses. The respondent, or person defending the heirship claim, may also have an opportunity to present evidence. After all the available evidence reaches the court, a judge decides who the rightful heir is.
What are some common reasons for contested heirship claims?
There can be many different reasons for contested heirship claims. Some of the most common reasons include:
– The deceased left no will, and there is a dispute about who should inherit the property.
– There is a question about whether the person designated as the heir is actually the rightful heir.
– The estate is worth a lot of money, and there are competing claims from family members.
Although contested heirship claims can be difficult, it is important to remember that the court will ultimately decide who is the rightful heir. If you are facing a contested heirship claim, familiarize yourself with the process first to make sure you are taking the right steps.