Legal Dictionary

heir presumptive

Legal Definition of heir presumptive

See also

  1. heir apparent

Definition of heir presumptive


heir presumptive (plural heirs presumptive)

  1. (usually monarchy) Someone who will inherit only if no better choice for an heir is born.


Further reading

An heir presumptive is the person provisionally scheduled to inherit a throne, peerage, or other hereditary honor, but whose position can be displaced by the birth of an heir apparent or of a new heir presumptive with a better claim to the throne. When lowercased, "heir presumptive" can refer generally to someone who is provisionally scheduled to inherit a title, position or possession, unless displaced by an heir apparent or another heir presumptive. In both cases, the position is however subject to law and/or conventions that may alter who is entitled to be heir presumptive.

Depending on the rules of the monarchy the heir presumptive might be the daughter of a monarch (if males take priority over females and the monarch has no sons), or the senior member of a collateral line (if the monarch is childless).

If an heir apparent is born, he becomes first-in-line to the throne, with all of his descendants taking priority over the heir presumptive in the Line of Succession. In the event of there being an heir apparent, the most senior person in the Line of Succession who is not a direct male descendant of the monarch is not described as heir presumptive.

For more detailed information, and a comparison between the positions of heir presumptive and heir apparent, see heir apparent.


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