Decree of Descent Law and Legal Definition

A decree of descent is an order issued by a court after a petition for an official determination for the distribution of property of a deceased person. The decree may be requested in cases where the deceased died without a will, or in cases where a will was left, but there are conflicting claims on the property. Decrees of descent are governed by state laws, which vary by state.

The following is an example of a state statute governing decrees of descent:

525.312 DECREE OF DESCENT. Upon the filing of such petition, the court shall fix the time and place for the hearing thereof, notice of which shall be given pursuant to section 524.1-401. Notice of the hearing, in the form prescribed by court rule, shall also be given under direction of the court administrator by publication once a week for two consecutive weeks in a legal newspaper in the county where the hearing is to be held, the last publication of which is to be at least ten days before the time set for hearing. Upon proof of the petition and of the will if there be one; or upon proof of the petition and of an authenticated copy of a will duly proved and allowed outside of this state in accordance with the laws in force in the place where proved, if there be one; and if a clearance for medical assistance claims is on file in the proceeding and any medical assistance claims are paid or satisfied, the court shall allow the same and enter its decree of descent assigning the real or personal property, or any interest therein, to the persons entitled thereto pursuant to the will or such authenticated copy, if there be one, otherwise pursuant to the laws of intestate succession in force at the time of the decedent's death. The decree of descent shall operate to assign the property free and clear of any and all claims for medical assistance arising under section 525.313 without regard to the final disposition of those claims. The court may appoint two or more disinterested persons to appraise the property.