The term “inherit” may refer to one of two common uses.
The first use is in relation to inheritance. In this context, the term inherit refers to the act of acquiring another’s property upon their death. At common law, the term “inherit” referred only to the act of acquiring property through the laws of descent and distribution, and did not include the act of receiving property through a will or trust. However, in states that adopted some form of the slayer rule, which prevents those guilty of murder from inheriting their victim’s property, legislators adopted a broader definition of the term inherit, including property bequeathed by wills or deeds upon the death of the deceased. An example of this broader definition being employed by courts can be seen in the District Court of Appeal of Florida’s discussion of the right to inherit in Anderson v. Anderson.
The second use of the term “inherit” is in relation to health law. In this context, a medical trait is said to be inherited if it is passed down from the biological parents to the child. An individual may inherit a variety of diseases and disorders, even if the trait was not expressed in their parents.
[Last updated in June of 2023 by the Wex Definitions Team]