I give this property to John Smith and his heirs and assigns forever.”
The phrase “heirs and assigns forever” means that John can “assign” (sell by deed or give by will) the property or, if he has not done that by his death, then John’s heirs will have title to the property (depending upon state statute and common legal practice at the time). 

That’s a rather simplified version of “heirs and assigns” forever, but “heirs” and “assigns” mean different things.

And the genealogist who doesn’t concern themself with the definitions runs the risk of drawing conclusions that are not necessarily true.



2 Responses

  1. Since a simplified version of “heirs and assigns” forever, then what is the meaning of “heirs” and “assigns”?

    • Heirs are individuals who are legally entitled to inherit from person A if person A dies leaving no valid last will and testament. Assigns are someone to whom a person has signed a document giving or assigning their property to another person.

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