Heir on intestacy / Statutory heir / Gesetzlicher Erbe

Some problems here:

In US law, there is an heir

bq. Gifis: heirs: strictly, those whom statutory law would appoint to inherit an estate should the ancestor die without a will. Synonyms: heirs at law, rightful heir, legal heirs. The term is often applied indiscriminately to those who inherit by will or deed as well as by operation of law.

In English law, there has been no heir since 1927 – only beneficiaries.

bq. Oxford Law Dictionary: heir: before 1926, the person entitled under common law and statutory rules to inherit the freehold land of one who died intestate.

In everyday English, the term may be understood to mean the person who inherits on intestacy. There is an heir to the throne, who automatically inherits the throne in a similar way to the German manner of succession – see below.

But under the common law, originally, a testator could exclude anyone from succession by will. All kinds of devices have been introduced to protect spouses, children, and dependants from being disinherited, but still, there is no heir under a will.

BUT in German law, the Erbe (a word related to heir), singular or plural, exists whether there is a will or not. You could say that this is because you can’t exclude your heirs.

bq. Alpmann-Brockhaus Erbe: jede erbfähige (Erbfähigkeit) natürliche oder juristische Person, auf die mit dem Tod des Erblassers das Vermögen kraft Gesetzes oder kraft Verfügung des Erblassers als Ganzes übergeht, und die in dessen gesamte Rechts- und Pflichtenstellung eintritt (Gesamtrechtsnachfolge). Der Erbe wird damit Eigentümer der Nachlassgegenstände, Gläubiger der Nachlassforderungen und Schuldner der Nachlassverbindlichkeiten. Der Erbe ist vom Vermächtnisnehmer zu unterscheiden, der gegen den Beschwerten nur einen schuldrechtlichen Anspruch auf die entsprechende Leistung hat (§2174 BGB).
© Alpmann Brockhaus Fachlexikon Recht, 2004 [CD-ROM].

(Not quite as good as Creifelds, but much better software, and runs together with the Muret-Sanders e-Großwörterbuch)
To be continued…

One thought on “Heir on intestacy / Statutory heir / Gesetzlicher Erbe

  1. I’m gratified to see the expression ‘person entitled under common law’. In fact, as I’ve canvassed before now re gesetzlicher Erbe, the UK Administration of Estates Act 1925 that deals with the intestacy rules doesn’t use the term beneficiary, but a person entitled on intestacy – or on ‘the statutory trusts’ that we agreed was too English/Common Law. It also speaks of ‘entitlements on intestacy’.

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