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“Deserve” v. “Entitled to” an Inheritance

Posted by Anthony Serra | Aug 24, 2022 | 0 Comments

Love means doing the right thing

I see situations where a person leaves money in their will to a child or grandchild with the qualification that they “do the right thing” and make gifts to other family members as they deem fair and equitable.

First of all, I question how enforceable such a directive is (can a grandchild, for instance, actually go to court to force payment to them? – I doubt they will be successful). But secondly, why pass along the responsibility of deciding what is fair and equitable to another person? In most cases that person will feel very conflicted, trying to carry out your wishes in terms of gauging what is fair and equitable, while at the same time acting on their own sense of doing the right thing in light of their relationship to these other family members, not to mention their own self interest of retaining as much money as possible. It becomes very messy.

Whether a person “deserves” an inheritance is a far cry from whether they are legally “entitled to” an inheritance. The distinction between the two in terms of enforceability is a profound one and a decision best left to the testator (that is, the person who is making his or her will). Unless the will makes it clear that a particular person is to receive an inheritance, there is no legal entitlement to an inheritance and any directive short of that will only lead to ambiguity and costly litigation.  

You can protect your family and appoint a guardian and trustee for your minor children very easily by doing a simple will. All it takes is a phone call or text to Serra Law Group at (908) 534-1985. 

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About the Author

Anthony Serra

Tony Serra is a passionate advocate, especially for the elderly, disabled and those of modest means who need the services of an experienced and caring attorney. For more than 30 years, Tony has been helping common, everyday folks navigate their way through life's turbulent waters. Through innovation and utilizing modern technology, Tony and his law firm are now able to offer quality legal services that at one time were prohibitively expensive, at a fraction of the cost. If you need basic legal services, such as a Will, Power of Attorney, Living Will, Special Needs Trust, real estate transactions, uncontested guardianship pleadings and much more, please visit our website and our SMART LAW legal services platform. You will be pleasantly surprised by what we offer and glad you did! Tony is also an experienced mediator and founder of the Conflict Resolution Center of NJ. Tony has specific training in family matters as well as elder law and contested guardianship and estate cases.  


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