Laughing Heir Law and Legal Definition

A laughing heir is a distant relative of an intestate decedent who takes under the applicable intestacy statutes but who did not expect to inherit. This heir is said to "laugh all the way to the bank" because the heir often does not even know the decedent. Even though the heir is a distant relative of the deceased, s/he will inherit the property of the deceased in the absence of an immediate family member to inherit. In the absence of an immediate relation, any such person who can prove some kind of kinship with the deceased can inherit the property. Where there is no distant relative to inherit deceased person’s property, state under §2-103 of the Uniform Probate Code attach such property. There are several laughing heir statutes in U.S. states. Texas, Virginia and Florida are states that do not have laughing heir statute whereas Alabama has incorporated laughing heir statutes.