Nam nemo haeres viventis

Nam nemo haeres viventis

Literal Meaning

No one is the heir of a living person.


This Maxim means that a person becomes a complete heir of another only when the ancestor dies. It is necessary that the ancestor dies before a person becomes an heir. Thus, an heir has no legal interest in the property he expects to inherit until it actually devolves upon him.[1]


‘A’ is the only son of ‘B’ and thus he is also the legal heir. However, ‘A’ is not complete their till the ‘B’ dies.

Indian Law Position:

Section 2(h) of the Indian Succession Act, 1952 defines ‘will’ as following –

““Will” means the legal declaration of the intention of a testator with respect to his property

which he desires to be carried into effect after his death.”[2]

It is clear from the bare reading of Section that a will is effected through the intention of the

Owner of the property regarding how it will be treated after his death.[3]The words ‘after his death’ are important here as it displays the principle of Nam nemo haeres viventis. 

Case Referred

Illinois Co. v. Bosworth

The Supreme Court of United States used the principle of Nam nemo haeres viventis in this case.[4]

Thomas Moulden Sherwood v Robert Ray

In this case the Privy Council (United Kingdom) also used the principle of Nam nemo haeres viventis.[5]

Krishna Kumar Birla vs. Rajendra Singh Lodha & Ors

In this case the honorable Supreme Court of India relied upon Section 2(h) of the Indian Succession Act, 1925.[6]

Edited by Vigneshwar Ramasubramania

Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje


[1] Nemo Est Heres Viventis, Oxford Reference (June 5, 2019, 5:57 PM).

[2] Indian Succession Act 1925, s. 2(h).

[3] Abeer Sharma, How Do Families In India Plan And Manage Succession, IPleaders (June 5, 2019, 6:13 PM),

[4] Illinois Co. v. Bosworth , 133 US 92 (1890).

[5] Thomas Moulden Sherwood v Robert Ray, 12 E.R. 848

[6] Krishna Kumar Birla vs Rajendra Singh Lodha & Ors, Civil Appeal  No. 2277 of  2008.

Vishwa Patel
I am 2 nd Year B.A LL.B (Hons.) student at Gujarat National Law University. I like to explore and write on topics of Cyber Laws, Intellectual Property Laws and Competition Laws. Further, to enhance my knowledge of Law I like to participate in moot court competitions. You can reach me at: