At common law, the person appointed by law to succeed to the estate in case of intestacy.
One who inherits property, whether real or personal. A person who succeeds, by the rules of law, to an estate in lands, tenements, or hereditaments, upon the death of his ancestor, by descent and right of relationship. One who would receive his estate under statute of descent and distribution. Faulkner's Guardian v. Faulkner, 237 Ky. 147, 35 S.W.2d 6, 7.
Moreover, the term is frequently used in a popular sense to designate a successor to property either by will or by law.
Word "heirs" is no longer limited to designated character of estate as at common law. Jay v. Dollarhide, 3 Cal.App.3d 1001, 84 Cal.Rptr. 538, 547.
Word "heirs" is a technical term and is used to designate persons who would, by statute, succeed to an estate in case of intestacy. Wells Fargo Bank v. Title Ins. & Trust Co., 22 Cal.App.3d 295, 99 Cal.Rptr. 464, 466.
See also descent
Bodily laws.
See heir of the body.
Civil law.
A universal successor in the event of death. He who actively or passively succeeds to the entire property or estate, rights and obligations, of a decedent, and occupies his place. The term is indiscriminately applied to all persons who are called to the succession, whether by the act of the party or by operation of law. The person who is created universal successor by a will is called the "testamentary heir;" and the next of kin by blood is, in cases of intestacy, called the "heir at law," or "heir by intestacy." The executor of the common law in many respects corresponds to the testamentary heir of the civil law. Again, the administrator in many respects corresponds with the heir by intestacy.
By the common law, executors and administrators have no right except to the personal estate of the deceased; whereas the heir by the civil law is authorized to administer both the personal and real estate. The term "heir" has several significations. Sometimes it refers to one who has formally accepted a succession and taken possession thereof; sometimes to one who is called to succeed, but still retains the faculty of accepting or renouncing, and it is frequently used as applied to one who has formally renounced.
See also collateral heir.
@ joint heirs
Co-heirs. The term is also applied to those who are or will be heirs to both of two designated persons at the death of the survivor of them, the word "joint" being here applied to the ancestors rather than the heirs.
- known heirs. See that title.
@ lawful heirs
See descent, heir at law; heir, legal.
@ legitimate heirs
Children born in lawful wedlock and their descendants, not including collateral heirs or issue in indefinite succession.
@ lineal heirs
See lineal heir.
@ natural heirs
Heirs by consanguinity as distinguished from heirs by adoption, and also as distinguished from collateral heirs.
@ right heir
This term was formerly used, in the case of estates tail, to distinguish the preferred heir, to whom the estate was limited, from the heirs in general, to whom, on the failure of the preferred heir and his line, the remainder over was usually finally limited. With the abolition of estates tail, the term has fallen into disuse, but when still used, in modern law, it has no other meaning than "heir at law."
@ heirs and assigns
Ordinarily words of limitation and not of purchase.
At common law, the words were essential to conveyance granting title in fee simple, and though they are unnecessary for that or any purpose under statute when used in wills or deeds, words still have that meaning.
@ heir special
In English law, the issue in tail, who claims per formam doni; by the form of the gift
@ heirs per stirpes
@ heir testamentary
In the civil law, one who is named and appointed heir in the testament of the decedent. This name distinguishes him from a legal heir (one upon whom the law casts the succession), and from a conventional heir (one who takes it by virtue of a previous contract or settlement)

Black's law dictionary. . 1990.

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