Definition: Descendant

The term “descendant” (not to be confused with decedent) usually refers to a person’s child, grandchild, great grandchild, etc. The term can have multiple meanings in legal writing and is sometimes meant to include those who have been adopted as well as those who are lineal descendants by blood. The term “descendant” does not include a person’s stepchildren or the stepchildren of the person’s descendants.

The definition of “descendants” we use in our instructions for drafting a simple will is: a person’s children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, etc., whether by blood or adoption. This definition is identical to the definition of issue in the context of the laws of descent and distribution in intestacy.