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Descent and Distribution

Origin Of The Law, Persons Entitled, Law Governing, Property Subject To Descent And DistributionStepparents Stepchildren, Operation and Effect of a Will, Debts of Intestate Estate

The area of law that pertains to the transfer of real property or PERSONAL PROPERTY of a decedent who failed to leave a will or make a valid will and the rights and liabilities of heirs, next of kin, and distributees who are entitled to a share of the property.

Stepparents Stepchildren

Ordinarily, a stepparent does not inherit from the estate of a deceased stepchild. Similarly, stepchildren do not inherit from their step-parent unless the terms of a statute grant them this right.

Operation and Effect of a Will

Rights under intestacy laws are only taken away by a properly executed will disposing of the testator's entire property. These laws can, however, operate in case of partial intestacy where part of the decedent's property is not disposed of by will.

Debts of Intestate Estate

Heirs and distributees generally receive property of their ancestor subject to his or her debts. The obligation of an heir or distributee to pay an ancestor's debt is based upon his or her possession of the ancestor's property. All property of an intestate ordinarily can be applied to pay his or her debts, but, generally, the personal property must be exhausted first before realty can be used.

Rights and Heirs Remedies of Creditors and Distributees

The interest of an heir or distributee in the estate of an ancestor can be taken by his or her creditors for the payment of debts, depending upon the applicable law. Advancements received by an heir or distributee must be deducted first from his or her share before the rights of creditors of the heir or distributee can be enforced against the share.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationFree Legal Encyclopedia: Deed of covenant to Direct Tax