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heir n

: one who inherits or is entitled to succeed to the possession of property after the death of its owner: as
a : one who by operation of law inherits the property and esp. the real property of a person who dies without leaving a valid will used in jurisdictions whose law is based on English common law called also heir at law heir general legal heir compare issue
b in the civil law of Louisiana
: one who succeeds to the estate of a person by will or esp. by operation of law see also intestacy, unworthy compare ancestor, devisee, legatee, next of kin, successor

apparent heir
: heir apparent in this entry

beneficiary heir
in the civil law of Louisiana
: an heir who exercises the benefit of inventory which limits the amount of his or her liability for the decedent's debts

bod·i·ly heir
: heir of the body in this entry

forced heir
: an heir who cannot be disinherited except for causes recognized by law
in the civil law of Louisiana
: an heir who because of youth or mental or physical infirmity cannot care for himself or herself and who cannot be deprived of his or her lawful portion of the decedent's estate by disinherison without just cause see also legitime

heir ab in·tes·ta·to
[-ab-in-tes-tā-tō, -Ä b-in-tes-tÄ -tō]
pl: heirs ab intestato
in the civil law of Louisiana
: an heir that takes only by operation of the laws governing intestate succession

heir apparent
pl: heirs apparent
: an heir whose right to an inheritance cannot be voided or undone except by exclusion under a valid will if he or she survives the ancestor called also apparent heir compare heir presumptive in this entry

heir at law
: heir

heir general
pl: heirs general
: heir

heir in tail
: an heir to a fee-tail estate called also heir of entail

heir of the body
: an heir who is a lineal descendant esp. as contrasted with a collateral descendant called also bodily heir

heir presumptive
pl: heirs presumptive
: an heir whose right to inherit may be defeated by the birth of a nearer relative or by exclusion under a valid will called also presumptive heir compare heir apparent in this entry

instituted heir
in the civil law of Louisiana
: an heir who is named in the will but whose legacy will fall to a substitute legatee under a vulgar substitution in the event that he or she refuses the legacy or dies before the testator called also instituted legatee

irregular heir
in the civil law of Louisiana
: an heir who inherits a right of action to the estate as distinguished from seisin NOTE: This class of heirs was eliminated as of January 1, 1982. Formerly, a decedent's illegitimate children and spouse were considered irregular heirs.

legal heir
: heir
in the civil law of Louisiana
: an heir who receives seisin immediately after the death of the intestate by operation of law compare irregular heir in this entry NOTE: Prior to 1982 the Louisiana Civil Code distinguished between legal and irregular heirs who were required to go through an additional procedure in order to receive possession of the property. This division of heirs was eliminated in the 1981 revision of the Civil Code.

natural heir
: an heir (as a child) whose status as an heir arises from esp. close blood relationship as distinguished from one (as the state) whose status arises by operation of statute

presumptive heir
: heir presumptive in this entry

pretermitted heir
: a descendant of a testator who would be an heir under the laws of intestacy but who is not named to take under the will NOTE: Most states have statutes requiring a share of the estate to go to a pretermitted heir on the assumption that the omission was unintentional.

right heir
1 : an heir by blood
2 : the particular heir granted or devised an estate tail as distinguished from the heirs in general

testamentary heir
in the civil law of Louisiana
: an heir who inherits under a will
heir·less adj

heir·ship n

Source: Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law ©1996. Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. Published under license with Merriam-Webster, Incorporated.

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