Clearly explaining the probate process
Any person who receives assets from a probate estate is called either an heir or devisee of the estate. If there is a will, then the individuals who receive property through the will are called devisees. If there is no will, then the persons receiving property are determined by the laws of intestate succession and are referred to as heirs. In Alaska, the laws of intestate succession are found in A.S. 13.12. You may also refer to our explanation of intestate succession.
Generally, an heir or devisee of an estate does not need to obtain legal representation. The Personal Representative has many legal duties and obligations to fulfill to the estate, which is why he or she should engage the assistance of an attorney. If an heir or devisee believes that the Personal Representative is not properly discharging his duty or otherwise suspects some wrongdoing by the Personal Representative, then it is advisable to seek the advice of an independent attorney.
Alaska probate laws and rules have many provisions intended to protect the heirs and devisees of an estate. Even in informal probates, the Personal Representative is required to do the following things:
- Give notice to all heirs, devisees or interested persons that a Personal Representative has been appointed.
- Provide an inventory of the estate to any interested person who requests one.
- Prepare a "Final Accounting" that details the assets and expenses of the estate and the proposed distribution plan. The Personal Representative must send a copy of the Final Accounting to the heirs or devisees and allow them 30 days to object before making the distributions.