Hearing the term “inheritance” probably puts a thought of entitlement in your mind. This doesn’t make you an entitled person — it’s just that it is perfectly natural to assume that you will be the recipient of assets when you are included in a will. Inheritance is inherently about accumulating assets or benefits to a beneficiary. But to the grantor, inheritance is an important part of passing his or her lifetime of assets on to the next generation.

Knowing this is important, because as a beneficiary in a will you do have rights. But they may not be as comprehensive as you would think.

Let’s look at a few examples. The spouse of a deceased person will obviously garner a lot of attention in a will. Depending on whether the state involved follows community property laws or common law, the outcome will be different. For example, in common law states, that are laws that protect a spouse from complete disinheritance.

Another possibility is that a divorce occurred and the deceased person did not remove his or her former spouse from their will. Many states will take the divorce as the precedent to follow and forbid assets from going to the ex-spouse — other states allow the will to stand on its own.

With children, their inheritance rights are actually quite limited. They aren’t legally protected for the most part, though there are protections in place in case of an unintentional omission in the will.

Source: FindLaw, “Inheritance Law and Your Rights,” Accessed Oct. 28, 2016