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One who inherits or is entitled to succeed to the possession of property after the death of its owner. In most jurisdictions, statutes of descent determine transfer of title to property if no will names the recipient. One may be either heir apparent or heir presumptive during the lifetime of the property holder. An heir apparent's right to an inheritance cannot be voided or undone except by exclusion under a valid will. An heir presumptive's right to inherit may be defeated by the birth of a nearer relative. In Britain, the heir apparent of the monarch is the eldest son. If there are no sons, the eldest daughter is heiress presumptive. See alsoprimogeniture.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on heir, visit Britannica.com.