What are collateral heirs?

On Behalf of | Dec 1, 2020 | Probate Litigation |

Ideally, when a person passes away in Minnesota, their last will and testament allows their estate to be distributed according to their wishes. Unfortunately, not everyone leaves behind a will when they die. If they don’t, it’s up to the judge to figure out how their assets should be divided. When this happens, collateral heirs sometimes come into play.

What are collateral heirs?

When an individual dies with no will, their spouse typically receives their assets. If they weren’t married, their assets go to their children. If they weren’t married and don’t have children, the assets go to the next heirs in line, who are known as “collateral heirs.” This can include the individual’s parents, siblings, grandparents and other immediate relatives. If the individual did leave a will but omitted a person who would be in line for their assets, that omitted person might contest the will through probate litigation.

In some cases, grandchildren can also be eligible for an inheritance. However, this only occurs if both their parents are deceased. The law states that the assets must go to the next generation instead of being divided among the siblings. An heir might wish to hire an estate law attorney if they feel that they’re being unfairly left out of the proceedings.

Should you hire an attorney for an estate dispute?

When an individual dies, dividing up their assets can cause legal challenges and family arguments, particularly if the individual died without a will. If you believe that you were unintentionally omitted from a will or the will wasn’t executed properly, you may contest the will in court. An attorney might be able to help prove that the executor acted inappropriately or that you deserve a share of the individual’s assets.