Providing Comprehensive, Hands-On Legal Help When You Need It

The rights of heirs in estate administration

Heirs are automatically entitled to inherit a person’s estate after his or her death. The heir can be a blood relative or a relation by marriage. The rules for defining heirs and deciding who is entitled to an estate are determined by Delaware laws.

Defining heirs

Each state has a different way of determining who the heirs are. Without a will, most state laws define heirs as the spouse and children. In a will, the heirs are specifically listed in the document and do not have to include spouses, children or relatives; the estate owner decides who gets his or her assets and the amounts for each person.

In many states, the spouse’s “elective share” rule guarantees payment to the decedent’s spouse. The spouse does not have to be included in the will. This rule makes it nearly impossible to disinherit a spouse upon a person’s death.

Rights in probate

Heirs have certain rights and duties to fulfill upon the estate owner’s death. They have the right to challenge the validity of wills and trusts in probate court. They can make decisions alongside the estate executor in court. Heirs may want to challenge each other’s decisions in court. If there are missing heirs, it’s possible to file an application for heirship in probate court.

Understanding heirs’ rights

Heirs have more control over a person’s estate than they think they do. The estate executor is required to contact the heirs immediately after a death and stay in close contact. Heirs have the right to challenge the administration of an estate and work toward receiving a fair inheritance.