To claim an inheritance, a person must file with the court a document that serves as notice to the court and to the administrator of the estate that the person may be entitled to an inheritance. The name of the document will vary in each jurisdiction. Some jurisdictions call the form a demand for notice. This form contains the name of the person submitting the demand, a statement describing his or her connection to the estate, a mailing address, phone number, and the name of the person who died. After a person files the demand for notice, it obligates the court clerk and the administrator of the estate to send copies of all documents filed with the court to the person who filed the demand.
A person wanting to claim an inheritance must send an endorsed copy of his demand for notice to the administrator of the estate. The term "endorsed" in this case means that the court has placed an official stamp on the demand for notice. The stamp indicates the date that a person filed the document with the court along with the court clerk’s signature. The administrator of an estate is a personal representative or an executor. The person serving as the administrator is obligated to gather the property of the person who died and distribute such property pursuant to a valid will or, when there is no valid will, pursuant to the law.
A person typically can claim an inheritance if he is entitled to inherit through a valid will. If there is no valid will, then a person can claim one through a jurisdiction’s intestate laws. Intestate means that a person died without a valid will. Most jurisdictions will have statutes that establish intestate succession of property. This means that, when a person dies without a valid will, the law will control who has the right to inherit.
People claiming inheritances must act with diligence to protect his rights. Failure to claim an inheritance within a certain time may result in losing an inheritance, because the law is likely to establish certain deadlines for a person to assert his rights. A person would be wise to consult with a probate lawyer to understand the specific laws in his jurisdiction to claim an inheritance. For example, if there is a will that excludes a person from inheriting, the will may not be valid and the probate lawyer might be able to successful challenge the validity of the will.