Difference Between Bequest and Inheritance

By: | Updated: Oct-16, 2022
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Bequest and inheritance are two terms that are frequently used to describe a similar concept. Both are similar in the sense that they both deal with the passing of a person’s property after his death.

The difference between these two concepts lies in the legal rights of the person who has died and how this property is passed on to the beneficiaries.

Summary Table

Bequest Inheritance
Refers to assets given by will Refers to assets gifted from someone who dies
Usually refers to real property Can be cash, real property, personal property, and so forth
Can be given to non-heir, as long as it’s stated in the will Can be given by will or automatically by law, if you’re a legal heir

Difference Between Bequest and Inheritance

Definitions

A bequest is a property that is left to a person after the person dies. The property passes automatically to the person who is named in the will of the deceased.

Inheritance is the property that passes on after the person dies. The property does not pass automatically. Instead, it has to be transferred through a process called probate.

For a property to pass on as inheritance, it has to go through probate. In most states, when there is no will present, then the Probate Judge can decide what happens with the property and its beneficiaries.

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Difference Between Bequest and Inheritance

The main difference between these two concepts is that while bequest is a transfer of property from one person to another upon death, inheritance is a transfer of property from one person to another after death. This can also be called ‘estate distribution’.

While both these terms are used interchangeably, they have different meanings and different rules regarding their legal rights and distribution rules.

Both terms also deal with the passing of ownership or title over something which was previously owned by someone else after his death, but only in cases where there was no will present in existence before his death; otherwise, they would have had no legal rights over the property.

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