If an heir to an intestate estate dies while the estate is in probate and leaves a Will indicating their share is to be given to a non-heir, would this be a valid?

My grandparents died almost 2 years ago without a Will. Their estate is in probate and not settled. The estate was to be divided equally amongst their 4 sons after their house sold. My uncle died a month ago. He created a Will 3 days before he died leaving his share his parent’s estate to 4 friends. He was never married and did not have children. Can he Will his portion of his parents’ estate before the estate was settled to people would not be heirs through intestate


Asked on June 18, 2016 under Estate Planning, New Jersey


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

A beneficiary is someone who is listed in a Will to inherit. An heir is someone who inherits from an estate when the deceased died "intestate" (i.e. without a Will). In the latter case, hiership is determined as of the date of death. Therefore, if someone is legal heir at the time that the deceased died, then they have a legal right to inherit. If the heir should died before the estate is settled and probate closed, it does not affect their inheritance rights. In the case of a deceased heir, their estate will inherit. The proceeds will then be paybale according to the terms of their Will or, if they also die intestate, the their share will be distributed according to appropriate state law.

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