About 60 million people pass away each year, and each of them inevitably leaves some assets behind. Inheritance law determines who receives these assets and how they are distributed.
But how does inheritance work, exactly? Read on to answer this question and to get a quick but comprehensive inheritance guide.
What is Inheritance Law?
Inheritance laws are statutes that regulate how people will receive assets in the event that a family member passes away. They make sure that all beneficiaries will get some inheritance in case a will was never written. These laws also apply if there are assets that the deceased relative did not include in the will at all.
In many cases across the US, a well-developed will that appropriately divides assets will be incontestible. However, some situations allow for family members that were excluded from the will to contest it.
Inheritance laws often pertain to the spouse or common-law partner of the person who has died. Some states give children the right to inherit from their parents as well. These regulations are in place to ensure that everyone gets their due assets.
The most common process for inheritance is- surprise!- common-law inheritance. This is the norm in 38 states.
In these states, property ownership is decided by the name on the title of the estate. If assets are something other than land, it will be determined by whoever used their income to invest in it.
Spouses in these states are not automatically allowed half the assets that they received through marriage unless the will specifies it. However, they will usually give the rights to 1/3 or more of the property to the spouse regardless of the law’s specifications. However, these assets only go to the surviving spouse if they petition the court for their share.
A community property system means that each spouse owns exactly half of what was earned while they were married. When one of the spouses passes away, half of what they owned automatically goes to the surviving partner. This happens regardless of the terms of the will.
The other half of the estate can be distributed to other beneficiaries. However, if the deceased outlines that they want more of the estate to go to the surviving spouse, they can make that happen as well.
Elective Community Property
A state with an elective community property system essentially is the same as a common-law state. However, there is one difference: a spouse might have an automatic right to some of their deceased partner’s estate. This is assuming, however, that they have either signed a written agreement with the spouse or created a community property trust with them.
In some cases, extrajudicial settlement of estate matters will be required. It’s important to learn more about these proceedings both in the US and worldwide.
Learn More About Inheriting Property
Inheritance law can be difficult to understand, especially since different regulations apply to different states. However, it’s critical that you do your research and develop a concept of how you are receiving or leaving behind property.
Now that you know all about inheriting land and other assets, it’s time to get more information. Check out the search function on our home page and look up any more questions that you have about your inheritance.