The beneficiary designation is the document that names a beneficiary of a contract such as an annuity, life insurance policy, or retirement account. Beneficiaries can also be designated in a person's Last Will and Testament or in a Trust.
This is quite different than the more traditional heir...
Historically, heirs are the class of persons entitled to take or share, in whole or in part, any real property of an intestate decedent, now generally broadened to include all the property of an intestate decedent who hasn't named beneficiaries.
Instead having to abide by a document, heirs receive inheritance. For probate purposes, inheritance is receipt of property from an intestate decedent, by right of succession rather than by will.
For community property characterization or estate tax purposes, inheritance is receipt of property simply as a result of death.
Beneficiaries and heirs are not always the same people and do not necessarily have the same rights or receive their property in the same way.
To learn more about how to make sure those you want to inherit at your death receive what you would like, contact us to schedule a free 1/2 hour consultation at firstname.lastname@example.org