Home Curiosity Inheritance Definition: What Qualifies as an Inheritance?

Inheritance Definition: What Qualifies as an Inheritance?


It’s a simple fact of life that you can’t take your worldly possessions with you when you go to the grave. However, your belongings don’t simply disappear after you pass on, nor are they framed in a museum. Other people gain legal possession of them, and figuring out who gets possession of what is often a tricky legal matter.

The word “inheritance” gets thrown around a lot when talking about these matters. But what exactly does that word mean? How is it applied in a legal context?

This article will walk you through an inheritance definition and teach you a bit about inheritance disputes, estate planning, and the debts of an estate.

Inheritance Definition 

The definition is inheritance in law is as follows: what a person receives from a relative as a result of a will, beneficiary, trust, or laws of distribution and descent.

Inheritance usually comes in the form of money, but it can also come in the form of real estate, stocks, and physical possessions. It gets transferred easiest when there is a will.

A will is a document made by the deceased before death that specifies who receives what. If one simply wants everything to get distributed evenly, one can name beneficiaries, and the possessions will be split evenly to them. However, in the case of large or complex estates (say that the deceased had a valuable collection, was a writer and had manuscripts, etc) they may desire a will to figure out exactly who gets what.

A will is submitted to a probate court, which will review the will and make sure that all of the rightful people get their inheritance.

A will might specify that certain money can only be used for certain things. They also might specify that only a small amount of the money is received at a time.

When There Isn’t a Will

When a person does not leave a will — perhaps if they died suddenly — inheritance becomes a bit more complicated. Not everyone receives the inheritance they expected, and if there isn’t a will — or the will has muddy requests — an inheritance dispute might arise.

An inheritance dispute is when a party appeals the decision of a probate on the distribution of the will. Someone might appeal if they feel that money that’s rightfully owed to them might be rewarded. When the matter gets investigated, the probate court might find this person correct.

Check out this law firm we found which specializes in settling inheritance disputes.

Find Out if You Deserve Inheritance

As you can see, inheritance is a word with a simple definition that can often become a complicated matter. It all depends on the specifics of each case — but now you know the answer to the “inheritance definition” question.

If you think that you deserve an inheritance that wasn’t awarded to you, we recommend finding a company that settled inheritance disputes.

For more articles like this, check out our “family” section.