Inheritors are individuals who are to be given at least some portion if not all of the estate of an ancestor upon the ancestor’s or benefactor’s death as stated by the ancestor’s or benefactor’s will. Normally, if it is an ancestor, the ancestor is a parent or some other familial close relation as recognized by the laws regarding descent.
However, an individual could also even "inherit" said estate even if there was not a will, but only if those individuals were the legal heirs. Heirs are not necessarily always the same as inheritors. Inheritors are those who are specified in the will and who inherit the estate.
Heirs are individuals who inherit the estate of the deceased individual if the deceased did not leave behind a will. The heirs to an individual are discerned according to the rules regarding descent and distribution. A lineal heir is an individual in a line that descends from the deceased individual or ancestor or individual in question. A collateral heir is an individual who although is not descended from the deceased ancestor, they have some other relation such as an uncle, a sibling, or a cousin.
A simple way to discern the difference is that inheritors can be individuals who are not blood descendants of the deceased individual but are specified in the estate to receive some portion. Heirs are blood descendants of the deceased individual.
[Last updated in June of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team]