In general terms, an heir is a close relative who may be entitled to the decedent’s property or money after a death. Usually an heir is related by marriage, adoption or blood. Examples are spouses, children, grandchildren, grandparents, siblings, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews and cousins.
California probate law defines an heir as a person who is entitled to take property of the decedent by intestate succession. (“Intestate” is another word for someone who dies without a will.)
When someone dies without a will, the California probate courts will distribute the decedent’s property to the heirs in an order decided by state law.