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Inheritance is the practice of passing on property, titles, debts, rights, and obligations upon the death of an individual. The rules of inheritance differ between societies and have changed over time. In law, an heir is a person who is entitled to receive a share of the deceased's (the person who died) property, subject to the rules of inheritance in the jurisdiction of which the deceased was a citizen or where the deceased (decedent) died or owned property at the time of death. The inheritance may be either under the terms of a will or by intestate laws if the deceased had no will. However, the will must comply with the laws of the jurisdiction at the time it was created or it will be declared invalid (for example, some states do not recognize holographic wills as valid, or only in specific circumstances) and the intestate laws then apply. A person does not become an heir before the death of the deceased, since the exact identity of the persons entitled to inherit is determined only then. Members of ruling noble or royal houses who are expected to become heirs are called heirs apparent if first in line and incapable of being displaced from inheriting by another claim; otherwise, they are heirs presumptive. There is a further concept of joint inheritance, pending renunciation by all but one, which is called coparceny. In modern law, the terms inheritance and heir refer exclusively to succession to property by descent from a deceased dying intestate. Takers in property succeeded to under a will are termed generally beneficiaries, and specifically devisees for real property, bequestees for personal property (except money), or legatees for money.
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