Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Heir Definition:

A beneficiary of a will or an intestacy.

Related Terms: Legitimate Child

Initially, at common law, a heir referred to a person who took real property of a deceased as a result of an intestate estate.

But the term has evolved to refer generically to any person who in-her-its from an estate - the whole line of descent of the testator - whether it be real property or chattels, intestate or pursuant to a will.

To wit, the words of Justice McClellan of the Supreme Court of Alabama in Graham v De Yampert:

"Heirs ... is commonly used by lawmen to indicate all persons entitled by will or otherwise to share in the estate of decedents, and in cases like this as a synonym of legatees."


  • Graham v De Yampert, 17 SE 356 (1895)
  • Re Rynard 1980 DLR 530

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