Switch to ADA Accessible Theme
We Have Moved Our Main Address New Office Address: 9481 N. US Highway 301, Wildwood, Florida 34785
Millhorn Elder Law Planning Group
Call Today for a Free Consultation 800.743.9732

We Help Clients Throughout Florida Plan for their future
& Live in the moment

What Is The Difference Between A Beneficiary And An Heir?


Even though the terms are often used interchangeably, there are several notable differences between beneficiaries and heirs.

By being aware of the differences that set beneficiaries and heirs apart from one another, and working with an estate planning attorney, it’s easy to make the appropriate legal decisions. 

What Is A Beneficiary? 

A beneficiary is an individual who receives one’s assets, when they pass away. Someone who is named in a will or trust, and is set to receive the assets clarified within those documents, is considered a beneficiary.

The individual who gives away their assets, to a beneficiary, is considered a benefactor. A benefactor has the ability to choose who their beneficiaries are and, in turn, the terms and conditions of the distribution they’ve established. 

What Is An Heir? 

Many people pass away without a will or trust in their name. When this happens, there are certain people who are legally allowed to receive both property and assets from that individual’s estate.

The people who are legally allowed to receive property and/or assets from an individual’s estate are considered heirs. Every heir must, on some level, be related to the individual who has passed away.

Sometimes, though, a deceased individual has a blended family. These individuals are entitled to the assets that their deceased family member once possessed. But it can be difficult for these family members to make a case for this and, then, to obtain the assets that they are entitled to.

Given the complexities that can arise in these matters, an effective estate plan that clarifies one’s intended beneficiaries is always recommended.

What Is The Difference Between A Beneficiary And An Heir? 

A variety of differences serve to distinguish beneficiaries and heirs from one another. Some of the most notable differences that distinguish beneficiaries and heirs from one another are as follows:

  • A beneficiary can be anyone outlined in a will or trust. But, an heir is someone related to the deceased.
  • A beneficiary is someone who has been outlined in an end-of-life legal document. But, an heir is someone to whom assets will be given, in the event that the deceased individual doesn’t have those documents.
  • A beneficiary is bound to the rules outlined within an end-of-life legal document. An heir is bound to the rules of the court, due to there being no end-of-life legal document.

Every single one of these differences serves to distinguish beneficiaries and heirs from one another. To go along with this fact, though, these differences also serve to differentiate the process of receiving assets from a particular individual, in the event of that particular individual’s death. 

Speak With A Florida Estate Planning Attorney Today 

No matter who you are, or what your future plans are, it’s always wise to have an effective estate plan. Speak with a Villages estate planning attorney at Millhorn Elder Law Planning Group today and we will assist you in developing an estate plan that satisfies your needs.




Contact Form Tab