Heiress Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Heiress, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Heiress?

(n) Heiress is the female who has inherited or otherwise received the wealth or a part of it, being a legal heir of the owner of the property on his death

History and Meaning of Heiress

The term "heiress" refers to a woman who inherits property, money or title from her deceased relative, usually her father or another close family member. In earlier centuries, women could not inherit wealth or property themselves, and their inheritance would be transferred to their husbands upon marriage. However, this has changed over the years with changes in the laws of inheritance and women's rights. Today, any woman who is a legitimate heir to the fortune of a deceased relative is usually referred to as an "heiress."

Examples of Heiress

Here are a few examples of how the term "heiress" is used in different contexts:

  • Paris Hilton is an American socialite and heiress to the Hilton Hotel fortune.
  • Athina Onassis is a Greek heiress and only surviving descendant of Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis.
  • Petra Stunt is a British heiress and socialite who inherited a fortune from her father, Formula One racing magnate Bernie Ecclestone.
  • Maryanne Trump Barry is an American attorney and former United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. She is also the elder sister of former President Donald Trump and an heiress to the Trump family fortune.

Legal Terms Similar to Heiress

Here are a few related legal terms to "heiress:"

  • Inheritor: Someone who is legally entitled to receive property or assets from a deceased person.
  • Beneficiary: A person who inherits or will inherit under a will or trust.
  • Testate: An individual who dies with a will in place.
  • Intestate: An individual who dies without a will in place, in which case the law determines the legal heirs to the estate.
  • Last Will and Testament: A legal document that specifies how a person's property and assets will be distributed after their death.