The best place to start to learn about inheritance is on our inheritance start page. You can then come back to this page.
A person is allowed to make a will and leave his estate to whomever he wants. It doesn't make any difference if he has a wife and children, he can leave his estate to a Las Vegas Showgirl if that is what he wants to do. However, when he makes his will he must be of sound mind and have the mental capacity to make a will, not be under undue influenceand intend to make a will when he signs the document.
If he doesn't make a will before he dies, he dies intestate. He also dies intestate if the will that he makes is contested and not admitted to probate. If there is a forged will, he dies intestate. Finally, if he does not mention all of his property in a will, he dies intestate with regard to the property not mentioned. This might happen when he gives his house to someone but no mention is made of the contents of the house. In all of these cases, his estate passes to his heirs as determined by law.
There are a number of different categories of heirs recognized under the law. Being an heir is important because heirs inherit if a person doesn't make a will or the will is contested and not admitted to probate or if a portion of the will is not upheld by the court. In each of these situations, the property in question will go the the person's heirs.
The several categories of heirs are: