Heirship isn’t a controversial topic until it threatens the relationships of family members or non-family people. But how can you figure out who will inherit and what will be passed down? An Affidavit of Heirship is useful if you are in line to inherit personal property, real estate, or money after the death of a predecessor. Aside from a will and testament, anyone with the right affidavit can establish property ownership.

Heirship is the legal right in order to receive money, property or any other possessions from a person who has died without living any will, or so called “interstate”. An interstate is someone who died without a will and fails to detail who their personal representative or their executor is or how that person is to distribute their assets. In these scenarios, state intestacy laws are the ones who will be determining who has priority to be appointed executor and to whom should the decedent’s property be distributed. 

Heirs are typically the deceased’s surviving offspring, descendants, or other family members. In other cases, spouses are not considered legal heirs because they have a right to inherit property under marital or community property rules. Heirs are not the same as beneficiaries, who are legally entitled to the decedent’s property since the decedent named them as the intended beneficiaries of the decedent’s assets in a will or trust.

What Is an Affidavit of Heirship? 

A legal document that identifies the heirs of a deceased individual who died without a valid or enforceable will is known as an affidavit of heirship. This document is used to prove ownership of a person’s real property, such as a home or a piece of land, by a spouse or family member. In some areas, heirs can file an Affidavit of Heirship to demonstrate property ownership after the original owner passes away intestate. When the decedent merely left real property, personal property, or a tiny inheritance, affidavits of heirship are commonly utilized. However, in some states, such as California, a minor estate affidavit is used instead of an Affidavit of Heirship, and only in specific circumstances. 

Affidavits of heirship can also be used to prove ownership of personal property like bank accounts and automobiles in some states. An affidavit of heirship permits family members to bypass the costly and time-consuming procedure of probate court settlement of the decedent’s estate. Its purpose is to convey all available information about the decedent, including all known family members such as spouses, parents, children, siblings, nieces and nephews, and so on, in order to distribute the decedent’s property equitably. The decedent’s heirs must come to an agreement on how the estate should be divided.

A disinterested third party must sign the affidavit, which is usually a witness who knows the decedent but is not an heir to the estate. The paperwork is then filed with the court and entered into the deed record of the county in which the property is located.  When someone dies without a will and leaves property behind, their heirs may need to file a probate court lawsuit in order to receive title to the property. In some cases, however, heirs can skip the time and expense of probate by using an Affidavit of Heirship.

An affidavit of heirship may be use for the following reasons: 

It’s important to remember that heirs can’t utilize Affidavits of Heirship in every case, and state laws vary on how and when heirship affidavits can be used. When selecting the best approach to deal with an intestacy situation, heirs frequently seek the guidance of an experienced estate attorney.

Common Terms Used In Affidavit of Heirship 

If you’re going to use an affidavit of heirship, you’ll come across a variety of words. It is critical to become familiar with these terms in order to understand how to use them, the meaning of these terms, and who they refer to. This will also assist you in filling out the affidavit more quickly because you will already know what information is required, especially if the term differs from other affidavits. Understanding these phrases can also help you comprehend the affidavit’s purpose. The terms used in an affidavit of Heirship are listed below: 

Decedent – this refers to the person who has died Interstate – this refers to the person who dies without leaving a valid will or other legal document that directs the distribution of assets after death Decedent’s Estate – this refers to the real and personal property that the person owned at the time of his or her death Real Property – this refers to all real estate that is owned by the decedent, this includes the tracts of land as well as all buildings and other fixed features on the property. Houses, barns, outbuildings, business offices and other developments are also included in this Personal Property – This refers to the property that is not connected to the land, such as cars, furniture, bank accounts, clothing and more Heirs – this refers to the person or the persons who may legally inherit the property of the decedent Affidavit – This refers to a sworn statement that verifies facts concerning a specific issue. In instances such as this, it helps identifies the heirs of the decedent and other necessary information that is required by law Witnesses – this refers to the disinterested third parties who are not the heirs of beneficiaries of the estate. Witnesses are required to sign the affidavit and to swear under oath that all information that is stated is true and correct. Notary – This refers to the person in charge of administering oaths and affirmations of the decedent and witnesses. Notaries include their personal seal of authentication to make the document valid. 

How To Create an Affidavit of Heirship?

Depending on where you live, an heirship affidavit serves different reasons. An affidavit of heirship, for example, is used to prove ownership of personal property like bank accounts and automobiles. As a result, it’s critical to familiarize yourself with the local court’s legal requirements before drafting an affidavit. Using a template, on the other hand, is one of the finest ways to create an heirship affidavit. Download one of our templates immediately if you don’t have somebody to create an affidavit for you. To write your own affidavit, follow the steps outlined below.

1. Identify the informations that should be included

The format and content of an affidavit of heirship are governed by the laws of each state. In Texas, for example, an affidavit of heirship must be filed using the state’s probate code’s statutory form. One or two witnesses, preparatory statements, and a return mailing address are all required in some states. The following are the most usual components of an affidavit of heirship:

2. Make a sworn statement identifying the executor.

If you are the one who will be claiming the assets and assuming responsibility for the deceased’s assets, you must identify yourself in the affidavit, which is why having your contact information and your relationship to the decedent is particularly crucial when filling out. You will also be required to write a declaration of truth to certify to the integrity and truthfulness of the affidavit you are submitting. If you fail to comply with this requirement, you may be charged with perjury.

3. Signatures of a Witness and a Notary Public

Finish the paper with a sworn statement from you, the Affiant, declaring that all of the information in the affidavit is true and correct to the best of your knowledge. A signature line for confirmation from a disinterested witness and a notary public must be included underneath that statement. A disinterested witness is someone who is not involved in the case and will not gain from the outcome, which is required to keep the proceedings clean and neutral.

4. The affidavit should be filed with the court

What occurs next in the affidavit process depends on your state’s procedures. In other circumstances, all you have to do is present the completed affidavit and the death certificate to the person who owns the assets, and they will release them. Other places, on the other hand, require you to first obtain probate court approval, which may result in the issuance of a more formal set of paperwork that you will use to claim the decedent’s assets. If your county permits it, you can file the affidavit in person, by mail, or even online if your county allows it. If your county allows it, you’ll almost certainly have to pay a charge.


Can an Affidavit of Heirship be contested?

An affidavit of heirship, like any other legal document, can be challenged. Other heirs may object to you receiving the property, or they may object to the fact that they are not identified as an heir on the affidavit. Another heir can challenge whether you are really related to the person who died. A person challenging your claim can file an affidavit containing the material they believe is accurate. Documentation, such as a birth certificate, could be used to back up their assertions. Who is telling the truth is decided by the court.

Is it necessary to register an Affidavit of Heirship?

Yes, an Affidavit of Heirship must be submitted and recorded in the county where the property is located deed records.

Who has the authority to file an Affidavit of Heirship?

Someone who is not the heir should sign an Affidavit of Heirship. This person should not be a beneficiary of the estate and should be familiar with the decedent’s family background.

Heirship affidavits allow the deceased’s family and relatives to handle real estate concerns without the need for court action. However, because of the potential for problems, an heirship affidavit is the least preferred alternative in circumstances involving high-value properties. To discuss your issue and choose the best course of action, you should always contact your county recorder’s office or get expert assistance from a lawyer.