Definitions from Black's Law Dictionary: 2nd Edition and Ballentine's Law Dictionary as are available for each term in each dictionary.
  • Ballentine's Law Dictionary

    One upon whom is cast an estate of inheritance upon the death of its owner. See 127 N. Y. 166, 24 Am. St. Rep. 438, 13 L. R. A. 46, 27 N. E. 959.

  • Black's Law Dictionary: 2nd Edition

    At common law. A person who succeeds, by the niles of law, to an estate in lands, tenements or hereditaments, upon the death of his ancestor, by descent and right of relationship. Hoover v. Smith, 96 Md. 393, 54 Atl. 102; Fletcher v. Holmes, 32 Ind. 510; Sewall v. Roberts, 115 Mass. 268; Dodge's Appeal, 106 Pa. 216, 51 Am. Rep. 519; Howell v. Gifford, 64 N. J. Eq. 180, 53 Atl. 1074. The term "heir" has a very different signification at common law from what it has in those states and countries which have adopted the civil law. In the latter, 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 bloood 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 reni estate. Story, Confl. Laws, §§ 57, 508. In the 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 "heir" has several significations. Sometimes it refers to one who has formally accepted a succession and taken possession thereof ; sometimes to one who is calied to succeed, but still retains the faculty of accepting or renouncing, and it is frequently used as applied to one who has formally renounced. Mumford v. Bowman, 26 La. Ann. 417. In Scotch law. The person who succeeds to the heritage or heritable rights of one deceased. 1 Forb. Inst. pt. 3, p. 75. The word has a more extended signification than in English law, comprehending not only those who succeed to lands, but successors to personal property also. Wharton.
    —Heir apparent. An heir whose right of inheritance is indefeasible, provided he outlive the ancestor; as in England the eldest son. or his issue, who must, by the course of the common law, be heir to the father whenever he happens to die. 2 Bl. Comm. 208; 1 Steph Comm. 358; Jones v. Fleming, 37 Hun (N. Y.) 230.
    —Heir at law. He who, after his ancestor's death intestate, has a right to inherit all lands, tenements, and hereditaments which belonged to him or of which he was seised. The same as "heir general." Forrest v. Porch, lOO Tenn. 391, 45 S. W. 676; In re Aspden's Estate, 2 Fed. Cas. 42; McKinney v. Stewart, 5 Kan. 394.
    —Heir beneficiary. In the civil law. One who has accepted the succession under the benefit of an inventory regularly made. Heirs are divided into two classes, according to the manner in which they accept the successions left to them, to-wit, unconditional and beneficiary heirs. Unconditional heirs are those who inherit without any reservation, or without making an inventory, whether their acceptance be express or tacit. Beneficiary heirs are those who have accepted the succession under the benefit of an inventory regularly made. Civ. Code La. art. 881.
    —Heir by adoption. An adopted child, "who is in a limited sense made an heir, not by the law, but by the contract evidenced by the deed of adoption." In re Sessions' Estate, 70 Mich. 297, 38 N. W. 249, 14 Am. St. Rep. 500.
    —Heir by custom. In English law. One whose right of inheritance depends upon a particular and local custom, such as gavelkind, or borough English. Co.. Litt. 140.
    —Heir by devise. One to whom lands are devised by will; a devisee of lands. Answering to the hœres factus (q. v.) of the civil law.
    —Heir collateral. One who is not lineally related to the decedent, but is of collateral kin; e. g., his uncle, cousin, brother, nephew.
    —Heir conventional. In the civil law. One who takes a succession by virtue of a contract or settlement entitling him thereto.
    —Heir, forced. One who cannot be disinherited. See Forced Heirs.
    —Heir general. An heir at law. The ordinary heir by blood, succeeding to all the lands. Forrest v. Porch, 100 Tenn. 391, 45 S. W. 676.
    —Heir institute. In Scotch law. One to whom the right of succession is ascertained by disposition or express deed of the deceased. 1 Forb. Inst. pt. 3, p. 75.
    —Heir, irregular. In Louisiana. Irregular heirs are those who are neither testamentary nor legal, and who have been established by law to take the succession. See Civ. Co.de La. art. 874. When there are no direct or collateral relatives surviving the decedent, and the succession consequently devolves upon the surviving husband or wife, or illegitimate children, or the state, it is called an "irregular succession."
    —Heir, legal. In the civil law. A legal heir is one who takes the succession by relationship to the decedent and by force of law. This is different from a testamentary or conventional heir, who takes the succession in virtue of the disposition of man. See Civ. Code La. arts. 873, 875. The term is also used in Anglo-American law in substantially the same sense, that is, the person to whom the law would give the decedent's property, real and personal, if he should die intestate. Kaiser v. Kaiser, 3 How. Prae. N. S. (N. Y.) 105; Waller v. Martin. 1C6 Tenn. 341, 61 S. W. 73, 82 Am St. Rep. 882
    —Heir, male. In Scotch law. An heir institute, who, though not next in blood to the deceased, is his nearest male relation that can succeed to him. 1 Forb. Inst. pt. 3, p. 76. In English law, the nearest male blood-relation of the decedent, unless further limited by the words "of his body," which restrict the inheritance to sons, grandsons, and other male descendants in the right line. See Jordan v. Adams, 6 C. B (N S) 764; Goodtitle v. Herring, 1 East. 275 ; Ewan v. Cox, 9 N. J. Law, 14.
    —Heir of conquest. In Scotch law One who succeeds to the deceased in conquest, i e., lands or other heritable rights to which the deceased neither did nor could succeed as heir to his predecessor.
    —Heir of line. In Scotch law. One who succeeds lineally by right of blood; one who succeeds to the deceased in his heritage; i. e., lands and other heritable rights derived to him by succession as heir to his predecessor. 1 Forb. Inst. pt. 3, p. 77.
    —Heir of provision. In Scotch law. One who succeeds as heir by virtue of a particular provision in a deed or instrument.
    —Heir of tailzie. In Scotch law. He on whom an estate is settled that would not have fallen to him by legal succession. 1 Forb. Inst, pt 3, p. 75.
    —Heir of the blood. An inheritor who suceeds to the estate by virtue of consanguinity with the decedent, either in the ascending or descending line, including illegitimate children, but excluding husbands, wives, and adopted children. Hayden v. Barrett, 172 Mass. 472, 52 N. E. 530, 70 Am. St Rep. 295; Baltimore & O R. Co. v. Patterson, 68 Md. 606, 13 Atl. 369.
    —Heir of the body. An heir begotten or borne by the person referred to, or a child of such heir; any lineal descendant of the decedent, excluding a surviving husband or wife, adopted children, and" collateral relations. Black v. Cartmell, 10 B. Mon. (Ky.) 193; Smith v. Pendell, 19 Conn. 112, 48 Am. Dec. 146; Balch v. Johnson, 106 Tenn. 249, 61 S. W. 289 ; Clarkson v. Hatton, 143 Mio. 47, 44 S. W. 761, 39 L. R. A. 748. 65 Am St. Rep. 635; Houghton v. Kendall, 7 Alien (Mass.) 72; Roberts v. Ogbourne, 37 Ala. 178.-
    —Heir presumptive. The person who, if the ancestor should die immediately, would, in the present circumstances of things, be his heir, but whose right of inheritance' may be defeated by the contingency of some nearer heir being bom; as a brother or nephew, whose presumptive succession mav be destroyed by the birth of a child. 2 Bl. Comm. 208; 1 Steph. Comm. 358; Jones v. Fleming, 37 Hun (N. Y.) 230.
    —Heir special. In English law. The issue in tail, who claims per formam doni; by the form of the gift
    —Heir substitute, in a bond. In Scotch law. He to whom a bond is payable expressly in case of the creditor's decease, or after his death. 1 Forb. Inst. pt. 3, p. 76.
    —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.)
    —Heir unconditional. In the civil law. One who inherits without any reservation, or without making an inventory, whether his acceptance be express or tacit Distinguished from heir beneficiary.
    —Joint Heirs. Co-heirs. The term is also applied to those 'Who are or will be heirs to bath 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. See Gardiner v. Fay, 182 Mass. 492. 65 N. E. 825.
    —Lawful heirs. In a general sense, those whom the law recognizes as the heirs of a decedent, but in a special and technical sense, lineal descendants only. Abbott v. Essex Co, 18 How. 215. 15 L, Ed. 352; Rollins v. Keel, 115 N. C. 68, 20 S. E. 209; Co.nger v. Lowe, 124 Ind. 368, 24 N. E. 889; 9 L. R. A 165 ; Moody v. Snell, 81 Pa. 362,
    — Legitimate beirs. Children bom in lawful wedlock and their descendants, not including collateral heirs or issue in indefinite succession. Lytle v. Beveridge, 58 N. Y. 605; Prindle v. Beveridge, 7 Lans. (N. Y.) 231.
    —Natural beirs. Heirs by consanguinity as distinguished from heirs by adoption, and also as distinguished from collateral heira. Ludlum v. Otis, l5 Hun (N. Y.) 4i4; Smith v. Pendell, 19 Co.nn. H2, 48 Am. Dec. 146; Miller v. Churchill, 78 N. C. 372; Markover v. Krauss. 132 Ind. 294, 31 N. E. 1047, 17 L. R. A. 806.
    — 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 desuetude, but when still used, in modern law, it has no other meaning than "heir at law." Brown v. Wadsworth, 168 N. Y. 225, 61 N. E. 250; Ballentine v. Wood, 42 N. J. Eq. 552, 9 Atl. 582; McCrea's Estate, 5 Pa. Dist. R. 449.