Laughing Heir

AAA

DEFINITION of 'Laughing Heir'

A distant relative who has inheritance rights despite not having a close, personal relationship with the decedent. In most jurisdictions, the law requires that the property of a person who passed away without leaving a will be given first to members of the decedent's immediate family, such as a spouse, children, etc. Under common law, this familial hierarchy extends as far back as it can be traced, giving folks who may have never even heard of the decedent - much less known him/her - inheritance rights.

INVESTOPEDIA EXPLAINS 'Laughing Heir'

Many states have enacted laughing heir statutes that limit the rights of distant family members of decedents who died without a will. In these states, the decedent's estate passes, or escheats, to the state itself, to be disbursed as government officials see fit. In states without laughing heir statutes, distant relatives still have priority over the state to an intestate decedent's belongings.

Therefore, it is important to know whether the state of your residence has any laughing heir statutes when considering the execution of your will, lest you inadvertently leave your benefactors liable to potential lawsuits from distant relatives.

RELATED TERMS
  1. Custodial Agreement

    An arrangement whereby one holds an asset or property on behalf ...
  2. Bona Vacantia

    A legal term for the situation in which property is left without ...
  3. Next Of Kin

    A person's closest living blood relative. The next-of-kin relationship ...
  4. Primary Beneficiary

    A beneficiary in a will, trust or insurance policy that is first ...
  5. Escheat

    The transfer of title of property or an estate to the state when ...
  6. Estate

    All of the valuable things an individual owns, such as real estate, ...
Related Articles
  1. Should You Convert Your IRA?
    Retirement

    Should You Convert Your IRA?

  2. Why Your Will Should Name Designated ...
    Home & Auto

    Why Your Will Should Name Designated ...

  3. 10 Sources Of Nontaxable Income
    Taxes

    10 Sources Of Nontaxable Income

  4. Tax-Saving Advice For IRA Holders
    Taxes

    Tax-Saving Advice For IRA Holders

comments powered by Disqus
Hot Definitions
  1. Elasticity

    A measure of a variable's sensitivity to a change in another variable. In economics, elasticity refers the degree to which ...
  2. Tangible Common Equity - TCE

    A measure of a company's capital, which is used to evaluate a financial institution's ability to deal with potential losses. ...
  3. Yield To Maturity (YTM)

    The rate of return anticipated on a bond if held until the maturity date. YTM is considered a long-term bond yield expressed ...
  4. Net Present Value Of Growth Opportunities - NPVGO

    A calculation of the net present value of all future cash flows involved with an additional acquisition, or potential acquisition. ...
  5. Gresham's Law

    A monetary principle stating that "bad money drives out good." In currency valuation, Gresham's Law states that if a new ...
  6. Limit-On-Open Order - LOO

    A type of limit order to buy or sell shares at the market open if the market price meets the limit condition. This type of ...
Trading Center