DEFINITION of 'Inheritance'

All or part of a person's estate/assets that is given to an heir once the person is deceased. An inheritance is typically a cash endowment given to younger heirs of the deceased, however any assets can be considered as part of an inheritance, such as stock certificates or real estate. If a will is not in place at the time of death, determining the rightful heirs of the deceased's estate becomes a much more complicated matter.

BREAKING DOWN 'Inheritance'

Inheritances often can be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars in value and, in most countries, inheritances are taxable. An inheritance tax is not necessarily an estate tax, as the two can be defined differently. An inheritance tax would aim to tax the heir who has received the inheritance, while an estate tax would apply to the assets of the deceased's estate.

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