Can You Appeal a Decedent’s Family Line to Recover Compensation?

Sometimes, it is possible to appeal a person’s right to inheritance. This can take several forms, but in the end, it is based on the person’s ability to substantiate their lineage. This can involve half-siblings or a line of succession kept hidden from other family members. However, the most common manifestation of this is when a person should be entitled to inherit after someone dies based on intestate law.

What Are Heirs-at-Law? 

According to intestacy law, heirs-at-law are individuals who would inherit the decedent’s assets if he or she died without a will. The surviving spouse, children, grandchildren, parents or siblings are usually included in this category. Those closest to the deceased have the first right of succession.

Can Heirs-at-Law Contest the Will?

When a decedent died intestate, heirs-at-law, if they had been eligible for inheritance, were essential to the probate process because they could contest the will. Not all claims in this category are valid, and other family members can appeal their claim by contesting the family line. For example, one of the children of the deceased who should have been listed in the will was left out as a beneficiary.

Contesting an Heirs-at-Law Claim

The affidavit presented by Heirs-at-Law provides a presumption of succession rights. It is not absolute and can be appealed. If someone is left out of the succession line, they can appeal the Affidavit of Heirship to obtain their right to inheritance. A common situation is when an heir is omitted from inheritance. This happens in various ways but one that is frequently seen is when the decedent’s children from a second marriage omit those from a first one. 

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in New York?

Typically, a wrongful death lawsuit is filed by the deceased person’s spouse and their children (both natural, adopted and stepchildren if supported by the decedent). If a spouse and children are absent from the family line, siblings, parents and grandparents can file.

Appealing Wrongful Death Lawsuit Protocol

A wrongful death lawsuit can be appealed. In such cases, the protocol used in the trial, including the defendant’s heirs, will be examined by a panel of judges. If any aberration is found, the issue can be appealed. In cases where the defendant’s family line is questioned, this too can be contested. By doing this, a family member who was left out of the wrongful death lawsuit can be included and share in the compensation.

The Complexity of a Decedent’s Family Line

This is a complex area and one that often requires legal advice. Advances in genealogical research support the ability to track a family line. For many people, this can be difficult, leaving out those who have a right to join the lawsuit and be compensated.

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