Nearest Heir Law and Legal Definition

The term “nearest heir” means the nearest in blood to the testator living at the time of his death. There is some conflict in the cases as to the effect of the word "nearest" when prefixed to "heir" or a similar term in a testamentary gift. In some cases it was held that, such a phrase includes all the heirs at law of the testator, while in some cases, the word "nearest" confines the gift to heirs at law of the class standing nearest in blood to the testator, excluding all others.

The words “nearest heirs” are not synonymous with the words "nearest of kin". The word used in association with the word "nearest" is "heirs," a technical word, with a meaning expressly related to the statute. Hence, the difficulty of interpreting the word "heirs" to mean "kin," or "blood relations," and of reconciling that meaning with the natural meaning of other words used by the testator, relating to the disposition of the estate. [Kello v. Kello's Ex'rs, 103 S.E. 633, 637 (Va. 1920)].