Surely the death of a relative is no laughing matter. Which, thankfully, the term 'laughing heir' is not a literal reference.
This term is used to describe an heir who is legally entitled to inherit property even if the decedent was only distantly related. And because of this, the heir, might not feel any reason to mourn over their death.
Now whether or not you'd be entitled to any inheritance as a laughing heir is dependent upon whether or not the decedent died without leaving a will. And if they did not leave a will, then the law of intestacy usually applies where property must first go to the decedent's immediate family like the spouse or children. However, if no persons like that exist, then under common law, the property may pass to the nearest living person who can prove they have a relationship with the decedent, even if that connection is a distant one.
If you think that you might have claim to an inheritance of a distant relative, you should consider consulting with a knowledgeable Estate Administration Attorney.
*This blog entry was not written by an Attorney and should not be constituted as professional legal advice.