Everything You Need to Know About Inheritance Rights

There is an inheritance law that governs and controls how a deceased person’s wealth and properties are distributed to his beneficiaries. A person may have built his wealth over his entire life, but he will not be able to bring this wealth into the grave. This wealth will be passed on in the form of inheritance.

The inheritance law may vary depending on which state you live in. Some states would automatically give inheritance to a surviving spouse even if the last will do not declare it. This is due to the common property law or community property law to spouse’s inheritance that a state should follow.

There are several types of inheritance, not just for spouses. You may be in a situation where you would need to claim for an inheritance, and it is best to know your rights so you can make your best move.

Inheritance Rights of a Surviving Spouse

Different states follow different laws in awarding inheritance to a spouse. Some follow common law, and some follow community property law.

Community property is a property purchased or money saved within the marriage. This also includes other properties that are acquired by either spouse during the marriage. A surviving spouse retains a separate interest in a property when the property was acquired through the following methods: when a property was acquired before marriage, if it was received as a gift or inheritance from parents, and if there was a prior agreement between the spouses on which properties will be separated from marriage community. This usually happens with a prenuptial agreement. If you are in a community property state, you and your spouse own half of the interest of properties acquired inside the marriage. It is up to both of you what you want to do with your share. A deceased spouse has every right to decide what to do or who to give his part of the share but will not be able to decide for the other spouse’s share. For example, the deceased spouse can elect to give his share to other family members.

In common law states, however, any spouse does not automatically get half of the interest of any property acquired during the marriage. Any property in a common law state will follow the property deed or title when determining who the rightful owner is. Whoever’s name is on the title will be the owner of the property even if the other spouse was the one who paid for it. If a title is not applicable, the state determines which spouse income purchased the property.  There are also guidelines on how a surviving spouse can claim inheritance to properties not on their name. Most common law states allow a spouse to inherit one-third of the deceased spouse’s properties.

Inheritance Rights of a Spouse after Divorce

After a divorce, most states automatically revoke any property given to an ex-spouse even the ones given as gifts.  In some states though, gifts are not affected by divorce. If a spouse doesn’t want to leave anything to an ex-spouse after divorce, it is best to write a whole new last will and testament to avoid giving away properties claimed as gifts unintentionally.

Inheritance Rights of Children

It is sad but true that children don’t have a legally protected right on a deceased parent’s inheritance, unlike a spouse, unless the deceased parent has a will stating that the children will get part of his estate. If the name of a child is not on the will, the state presumes that it was omitted by mistake especially if the last will and testament are made before the child was born. If a parent omits a child in his will intentionally, it should be expressed in the will that the child will not get anything for whatever reason.

Inheritance Rights of Grandchildren

Generally, grandchildren don’t have legal rights to any inheritance from grandparents. However, some states consider a statutory right of inheritance for grandchildren if the grandparents have no surviving children or the parents of that grandchild is deceased.

If you are fighting for an inheritance or trying to recover property, Inheritance Recovery could be your best bet. Recovery attorneys are the best people to help you out with inheritance so you can get what you rightfully deserve. Whether you are planning to write your will or a family member is trying to fight for your right, you should always consider your state’s law.

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