heir at law

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Heir at law is a person who inherits, or has a right of inheritance in, the property of a person who has died intestate

Each state defines heir at law differently. States follow the intestacy laws for where the deceased person lived when determining heirs at law. Heirs at law will follow a hierarchy starting with people who have a first right of inheritance, followed by people who have a second right of inheritance. A typical order of inheritance for someone who dies intestate may look as follows:

  1. Spouse
  2. Children
  3. Parents
  4. Siblings
  5. Grandparents
  6. Aunts and uncles
  7. Nieces and nephews

[Last updated in March of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team