The Law Dictionary

Featuring Black’s Law Dictionary Free Online Legal Dictionary 2nd Ed.

What is HEIR

At common law. 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. Hoover v. Smith, 96 Md. 393, 54 Atl. 102; Fletcher v. Holmes, 32Ind. 510; Sewall v. Roberts, 115 Mass. 268; Dodge’s Appeal, 100 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 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. Story. Confl. Laws,

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