Difference Between Bequest and Beneficiary

By: | Updated: Oct-16, 2022
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Bequest and beneficiary are two common terms used in the law. Bequest means that a person leaves something to someone else at his/her death. It can be a simple will, a trust, or a life insurance policy.

Beneficiary means the person who gets something from another person’s estate when he/she dies.

Summary Table

Bequest Beneficiary
The transfer of assets, property, etc from someone who dies to another person, according to their will The person to whom this assets, property, etc, is given
In the form of money, assets, property, and so forth Can be a multiple person, depending on the will

Difference Between Bequest and Beneficiary


“Bequest” refers to an asset being transferred in writing. It must be an asset that cannot be owned or controlled by anyone other than the person making the will, or it will not qualify as a gift under a trust.

It also must pass through probate (and therefore not pass through gift tax) if it is subject to probate. The only exception to this requirement is if the will states that it is irrevocable, in which case no probate or gift tax needs to be paid.

“Beneficiary” refers to the person to whom the asset is given. This person is also known as the beneficiary. If the beneficiary does not exist, then the asset will pass through probate to someone else.

The law states that most assets, such as stocks, bonds, and bank accounts, are subject to probate unless the decedent has specifically excluded them from probate.

Difference Between Bequest and Beneficiary

The main difference between bequest and beneficiary is that bequest is a gift from one person to another. The benefit may include assets, money, etc., but usually, it includes money because gifts can be divided among several beneficiaries.

The beneficiary is an individual who gets something from another’s estate after he/she dies. A beneficiary receives an asset such as money or property, but not necessarily all of it. The individual must have some kind of relationship with the person who died and received the gift (the donor).

There may be more than one beneficiary of an estate because more than one person may have contributed to it or left property to it (gift). A beneficiary can also receive other benefits such as Social Security, disability, etc.

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