Inheritance
Overview
 
Inheritance is the practice of passing on property
Property
Property is any physical or intangible entity that is owned by a person or jointly by a group of people or a legal entity like a corporation...

, title
Title (property)
Title is a legal term for a bundle of rights in a piece of property in which a party may own either a legal interest or an equitable interest. The rights in the bundle may be separated and held by different parties. It may also refer to a formal document that serves as evidence of ownership...

s, debt
Debt
A debt is an obligation owed by one party to a second party, the creditor; usually this refers to assets granted by the creditor to the debtor, but the term can also be used metaphorically to cover moral obligations and other interactions not based on economic value.A debt is created when a...

s, rights
Rights
Rights are legal, social, or ethical principles of freedom or entitlement; that is, rights are the fundamental normative rules about what is allowed of people or owed to people, according to some legal system, social convention, or ethical theory...

 and obligation
Obligation
An obligation is a requirement to take some course of action, whether legal or moral. There are also obligations in other normative contexts, such as obligations of etiquette, social obligations, and possibly...

s upon the death
Death
Death is the permanent termination of the biological functions that sustain a living organism. Phenomena which commonly bring about death include old age, predation, malnutrition, disease, and accidents or trauma resulting in terminal injury....

 of an individual
Individual
An individual is a person or any specific object or thing in a collection. Individuality is the state or quality of being an individual; a person separate from other persons and possessing his or her own needs, goals, and desires. Being self expressive...

. It has long played an important role in human societies. The rules of inheritance differ between societies and have changed over time.
In jurisdictions, an heir is a person who is entitled to receive a share of the decedent's property, via the rules of inheritance in the jurisdiction
Jurisdiction
Jurisdiction is the practical authority granted to a formally constituted legal body or to a political leader to deal with and make pronouncements on legal matters and, by implication, to administer justice within a defined area of responsibility...

 where the decedent died or owned property at the time of death.
Encyclopedia
Inheritance is the practice of passing on property
Property
Property is any physical or intangible entity that is owned by a person or jointly by a group of people or a legal entity like a corporation...

, title
Title (property)
Title is a legal term for a bundle of rights in a piece of property in which a party may own either a legal interest or an equitable interest. The rights in the bundle may be separated and held by different parties. It may also refer to a formal document that serves as evidence of ownership...

s, debt
Debt
A debt is an obligation owed by one party to a second party, the creditor; usually this refers to assets granted by the creditor to the debtor, but the term can also be used metaphorically to cover moral obligations and other interactions not based on economic value.A debt is created when a...

s, rights
Rights
Rights are legal, social, or ethical principles of freedom or entitlement; that is, rights are the fundamental normative rules about what is allowed of people or owed to people, according to some legal system, social convention, or ethical theory...

 and obligation
Obligation
An obligation is a requirement to take some course of action, whether legal or moral. There are also obligations in other normative contexts, such as obligations of etiquette, social obligations, and possibly...

s upon the death
Death
Death is the permanent termination of the biological functions that sustain a living organism. Phenomena which commonly bring about death include old age, predation, malnutrition, disease, and accidents or trauma resulting in terminal injury....

 of an individual
Individual
An individual is a person or any specific object or thing in a collection. Individuality is the state or quality of being an individual; a person separate from other persons and possessing his or her own needs, goals, and desires. Being self expressive...

. It has long played an important role in human societies. The rules of inheritance differ between societies and have changed over time.

Terminology

In jurisdictions, an heir is a person who is entitled to receive a share of the decedent's property, via the rules of inheritance in the jurisdiction
Jurisdiction
Jurisdiction is the practical authority granted to a formally constituted legal body or to a political leader to deal with and make pronouncements on legal matters and, by implication, to administer justice within a defined area of responsibility...

 where the decedent died or owned property at the time of death. Strictly speaking, one becomes an heir only upon the death of the decedent. It is improper to speak of the "heir" of a living person, since the exact identity of the persons entitled to inherit are not determined until the time of death. In a case where an individual has such a position that only her/his own death before that of the decedent would prevent the individual from becoming an heir, the individual is called an heir apparent
Heir apparent
An heir apparent or heiress apparent is a person who is first in line of succession and cannot be displaced from inheriting, except by a change in the rules of succession....

. There is a further concept of jointly inheriting, pending renunciation by all but one, which is called coparceny.

In modern legal use, the terms inheritance and heir refer only to succession of property from a decedent who has died intestate
Intestacy
Intestacy is the condition of the estate of a person who dies owning property greater than the sum of their enforceable debts and funeral expenses without having made a valid will or other binding declaration; alternatively where such a will or declaration has been made, but only applies to part of...

. It is a common mistake to refer to the recipients of property through a will as heirs when they are properly called beneficiaries
Beneficiary
A beneficiary in the broadest sense is a natural person or other legal entity who receives money or other benefits from a benefactor. For example: The beneficiary of a life insurance policy, is the person who receives the payment of the amount of insurance after the death of the insured...

,
devisees, or legatees.

History

Detailed studies have been made in the Anthropological
Anthropology
Anthropology is the study of humanity. It has origins in the humanities, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. The term "anthropology" is from the Greek anthrōpos , "man", understood to mean mankind or humanity, and -logia , "discourse" or "study", and was first used in 1501 by German...

 and sociological
Sociology
Sociology is the study of society. It is a social science—a term with which it is sometimes synonymous—which uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about human social activity...

 customs of patrilineal succession, is also known as gavelkind
Gavelkind
Gavelkind was a system of land tenure associated chiefly with the county of Kent, but found also in other parts of England. Its inheritance pattern bears resemblance to Salic patrimony and as such might testify in favour of a wider, probably ancient Germanic tradition.It was legally abolished in...

, where only male children can inherit. Some cultures also employ matrilineal succession only passing property along the female line. Other practices include primogeniture
Primogeniture
Primogeniture is the right, by law or custom, of the firstborn to inherit the entire estate, to the exclusion of younger siblings . Historically, the term implied male primogeniture, to the exclusion of females...

, under which all property goes to the eldest child, specifically it is often the eldest son, or ultimogeniture
Ultimogeniture
Ultimogeniture, also known as postremogeniture or junior right, is the tradition of inheritance by the last-born of the entirety of, or a privileged position in, a parent's wealth, estate or office...

, in which everything is left to the youngest child. Some ancient societies and most modern states employ partible inheritance
Partible inheritance
Partible inheritance is a general term applied to systems of inheritance in which property may be apportioned among heirs. It contrasts in particular with primogeniture, which requires that the whole inheritance passes to the eldest son, and with agnatic seniority where the succession passes to...

, under which every child inherits (usually equally).

Historically, there were also mixed systems:
  • According to Islamic inheritance jurisprudence
    Islamic inheritance jurisprudence
    Islamic Inheritance jurisprudence is a field of Islamic Jurisprudence that deals with inheritance, a topic that is prominently dealt with in the Qur'an. It is often called Mīrāth, and its branch of Islamic law is technically known as ʿulm al-farāʾiḍ...

    , sons inherit twice as much as daughters. The complete laws governing inheritance in Islam are complicated and take into account many kinship relations, but in principle males inherit twice as much as females with some exceptions. However, the Indonesia
    Indonesia
    Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

    n Minangkabau people (from western Sumatra
    Sumatra
    Sumatra is an island in western Indonesia, westernmost of the Sunda Islands. It is the largest island entirely in Indonesia , and the sixth largest island in the world at 473,481 km2 with a population of 50,365,538...

    ), despite being Muslim, employ only complete matrilineal succession with property and land passing down from mother to daughter.
  • Among ancient Israelite
    Israelite
    According to the Bible the Israelites were a Hebrew-speaking people of the Ancient Near East who inhabited the Land of Canaan during the monarchic period .The word "Israelite" derives from the Biblical Hebrew ישראל...

    s, the inheritance is patrilineal. It comes from the father, who bequeaths only to his male descendants (daughters don't inherit). The eldest son received twice as much as the other sons. The father gives his name to his children; for example: the sons of Israel are called Israelites, because the land belonged to the father, and every one of his twelve sons gave his name to his descendants. Example: the sons of Judah are called Yehudi (which is translated into Latin as Judaeus and into English as Jew.)
  • In Galicia (Spain) it was typical that all children (both men and women) had a part of the inheritance, but one son (the one who inherited the house) inherited one-third of all the inheritance. This son was called the mellorado (literally, "improved upon"). In some villages the mellorado even received two-thirds of all the inheritance. This two-thirds would be all the family's lands, while other children received their part in money.
  • In eastern Swedish culture, from the 13th century until the 19th century, sons inherited twice as much as daughters. This rule was introduced by the Regent Birger Jarl
    Birger jarl
    , or Birger Magnusson, was a Swedish statesman, Jarl of Sweden and a member of the House of Bjelbo, who played a pivotal role in the consolidation of Sweden. Birger also led the Second Swedish Crusade, which established Swedish rule in Finland. Additionally, he is traditionally attributed to have...

    , and it was regarded as an improvement in its era, since daughters were previously usually left without.


Employing differing forms of succession can affect many areas of society. Gender roles are profoundly affected by inheritance laws and traditions. Primogeniture
Primogeniture
Primogeniture is the right, by law or custom, of the firstborn to inherit the entire estate, to the exclusion of younger siblings . Historically, the term implied male primogeniture, to the exclusion of females...

 has the effect of keeping large estates united and thus perpetuating an elite. With partible inheritance large estates are slowly divided among many descendants and great wealth is thus diluted, leaving higher opportunities to individuals to make a success. (If great wealth is not diluted, the positions in society tend to be much more fixed and opportunities to make an individual success are lower.)

Inheritance can be organized with bbc in a way that its use is restricted by the desires of someone (usually of the decedent). An inheritance may have been organized as a fideicommissum, which usually cannot be sold or diminished, only its profits are disposable. A fideicommissum's succession can also be ordered in a way that determines it long (or eternally) also with regard to persons born long after the original descendant. Royal succession has typically been more or less a fideicommissum, the realm not (easily) to be sold and the rules of succession not to be (easily) altered by a holder (a monarch).

In more archaic
History
History is the discovery, collection, organization, and presentation of information about past events. History can also mean the period of time after writing was invented. Scholars who write about history are called historians...

 days, the possession of inherited land
Land (economics)
In economics, land comprises all naturally occurring resources whose supply is inherently fixed. Examples are any and all particular geographical locations, mineral deposits, and even geostationary orbit locations and portions of the electromagnetic spectrum. Natural resources are fundamental to...

 has been much more like a family trust
Trust law
In common law legal systems, a trust is a relationship whereby property is held by one party for the benefit of another...

 than a property of an individual. Even in recent years, the sale of the whole of or a significant portion of a farm in many European countries required consent from certain heirs, and/or heirs had the intervening right to obtain the land in question with same sales conditions as in the sales agreement in question.

Islamic Laws of Inheritance

The Quran introduced a number of different rights and restrictions on matters of inheritance, including general improvements to the treatment of women and family life compared to the pre-Islamic societies that existed in the Arabian Peninsula at the time. The Quran also presented efforts to fix the laws of inheritance, and thus forming a complete legal system. This development was in contrast to pre-Islamic societies where rules of inheritance varied considerably. Furthermore, the Quran introduced additional heirs that were not entitled inheritance in pre-Islamic times, mentioning nine relatives specifically of which six were female and three were male. In addition to the above changes, the Quran imposed restrictions on testamentary powers of a Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

 in disposing his or her property. In their will, a Muslim can only give out a maximum of one third of their property.

The Quran contains only three verses that give specific details of inheritance and shares, in addition to few other verses dealing with testamentary. But this information was used as a starting point by Muslim jurists who expounded the laws of inheritance even further using Hadith
Hadith
The term Hadīth is used to denote a saying or an act or tacit approval or criticism ascribed either validly or invalidly to the Islamic prophet Muhammad....

, as well as methods of juristic reasoning like Qiyas
Qiyas
In Islamic jurisprudence, qiyās is the process of deductive analogy in which the teachings of the Hadith are compared and contrasted with those of the Qur'an, in order to apply a known injunction to a new circumstance and create a new injunction...

. Nowadays, inheritance is considered an integral part of Shariah Law and its application for Muslims is mandatory.

Jewish Laws of Inheritance (Torah/Old Testament)

The inheritance is patrilineal. The father—that is, the owner of the land—bequeaths only to his male descendents, so the Promised Land passes from one Jewish father to his sons. The Promised Land is called "The Land of Israel" because it belongs to Israel, and his sons are called Israelites denoting their connection with the land of their father.

There was one exception. In Numbers 27:1-4, the daughters of Zelophehad (Mahlah, Noa, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah) of the tribe of Manasseh come to Moses and ask for their father's inheritance, as they have no brothers. In Numbers 27:7-11, Jehovah grants that if a man has no sons, then his daughters may inherit, and lays down the order of inheritance: a man's sons inherit first, daughters if no sons, brothers if he has no children, and so on.

Later, in Numbers 36, some of the heads of the families of the tribe of Mannasseh come to Moses and point out that, if a daughter inherits and then marries a man not from her paternal tribe, her land will pass from her birth-tribe's inheritance into her marriage-tribe's. So a further rule is laid down: if a daughter inherits land, she must marry someone within her father's tribe. (The daughters of Zelophehad marry the sons' of their father's brothers. There is no indication that this was not their choice.)

Inheritance Inequality

The distribution of inherited wealth is unequal. The majority receive little while only a small number inherit larger amounts.

Arguments for eliminating the disparagement of inheritance inequality include the right to property and the merit of individual allocation of capital over government wealth confiscation and redistribution. In terms of inheritance inequality, some economists and sociologists focus on the inter generational transmission of income or wealth which is said to have a direct impact on one's mobility (or immobility) and class position in society. Nations differ on the political structure and policy options that govern the transfer of wealth.

According to the American federal government statistics compiled by Mark Zandi, currently of "Moody's Economy.com", back in 1985, the average inheritance was $39,000. In subsequent years, the overall amount of total annual inheritance was more than doubled, reaching nearly $200 billion. By 2050, there is an estimated $25 trillion average inheritance transmitted across generations. Some researchers have attributed this rise to the baby boomer generation. Historically, the baby boomers were the largest influx of children conceived after WW2. For this reason, Thomas Shapiro
Thomas Shapiro
Thomas M. Shapiro is a professor of Sociology and Public Policy at Brandeis University and is the author The Hidden Cost of Being African American and the co-author of Black Wealth/White Wealth. Shapiro's current professional titles include the Pokross Professor of Law and Social Policy and the...

 suggests that this generation "is in the midst of benefiting from the greatest inheritance of wealth in history."

Inheritance and Race

Inheritances are transfers of the unconsumed material accumulations of previous generations. Inheritances therefore take on a special meaning with respect to black and white Americans: they directly link the disadvantaged economic position and prospects of today's blacks to the disadvantaged positions and outright slavery of their ancestors.

Depending on one's race, one inherits an inevitable amount of privilege or disadvantage at the time of their birth. A number of possible explanations for this gap have been suggested, particularly differences in income and various socio-economic characteristics between black and white households. Research reveals that race could be serving as a proxy for other, more fundamental, determinants of differences in inheritance. Among the findings, it was stated that a "father's education and variables indicating the economic conditions of childhood were the most important in predicting the size of inheritances." Based on samples of households in 1976 and 1989, researchers found that white households are at least twice as likely to receive an inheritance (than black households). White households are almost three times as likely to expect to receive an inheritance in the future. Hence, controlling for other factors, these researchers found that race is important in explaining whether or not a household has received an inheritance and the size of the inheritance.

Whites average both better health and inheritance than minority groups in the United States. Blacks and Hispanics are disadvantaged with respect to financial and human capital resources, more specifically, lower educational attainment, income, inheritances, and great concentrations in lower-skilled occupations. Additionally, due to employment discrimination and residential segregation
Residential Segregation
Residential segregation is the physical separation of cultural groups based on residence and housing, or a form of segregation that "sorts population groups into various neighborhood contexts and shapes the living environment at the neighborhood level."...

, minority households "have historically been denied the opportunity to accumulate wealth" and thus, acquire inheritance.

Inheritance and Social Stratification

Inheritance inequality has a significant effect on stratification. Inheritance is an integral component of family, economic, and legal institutions, and a basic mechanism of class stratification. It also affects the distribution of wealth at the societal level. The total cumulative effect of inheritance on stratification outcomes takes three forms. The first form of inheritance is the inheritance of cultural capital
Cultural capital
The term cultural capital refers to non-financial social assets; they may be educational or intellectual, which might promote social mobility beyond economic means....

 (i.e. linguistic styles, higher status social circles, and aesthetic preferences). The second form of inheritance is through familial interventions in the form of inter vivos transfers (i.e. gifts between the living), especially at crucial junctures in the life courses. Examples include during a child's milestone stages, such as going to college, getting married, getting a job, and purchasing a home. The third form of inheritance is the transfers of bulk estates at the time of death of the testators, thus resulting in significant economic advantage accruing to children during their adult years. The origin of the stability of inequalities is material (personal possessions one is able to obtain) and is also cultural, rooted either in varying child-rearing practices that are geared to socialization according to social class and economic position. Child-rearing practices among those who inherit wealth may center around favoring some groups at the expense of others at the bottom of the social hierarchy.

Sociological and Economic Effects of Inheritance Inequality

The degree to which economic status and inheritance is transmitted across generations determines one's life chances in society. Although many have linked one's social origins and educational attainment to life chances and opportunities, education cannot serve as the most influential predictor of economic mobility. In fact, children of well-off parents generally receive better schooling and benefit from material, cultural, and genetic inheritances. Likewise, schooling attainment is often persistent across generations and families with higher amounts of inheritance are able to acquire and transmit higher amounts of human capital. Lower amounts of human capital and inheritance can perpetuate inequality in the housing market and higher education. Research reveals that inheritance plays an important role in the accumulation of housing wealth. Those who receive an inheritance are more likely to own a home than those who do not regardless of the size of the inheritance.

Oftentimes, minorities and individuals from socially disadvantaged backgrounds receive less inheritance and wealth. As a result, minorities are more likely to rent homes or live in poorer neighborhoods, as well as achieve lower educational attainment compared whites in America. Individuals with a substantial amount of wealth and inheritance often intermarry with others of the same social class to protect their wealth and ensure the continuous transmission of inheritance across generations; thus perpetuating a cycle of privilege. For this reason, it can even be argued that one's inheritance places them in a specific social class position that requires a level of participation in certain activities that promote the oppression of lower-class individuals in terms of the social hierarchy and system of stratification.

Nations with the highest income and wealth inequalities often have the highest rates of homicide and disease (such as obesity, diabetes, and hypertension). A New York Times article reveals that the U.S. is the world's wealthiest nation, but "ranks 29th in life expectancy, right behind Jordan and Bosnia." This is highly attributed to the significant gap of inheritance inequality in the country. For this reason, it is clear that when social and economic inequalities centered on inheritance are perpetuated by major social institutions such as family, education, religion, etc., these differing life opportunities are transmitted from each generation. As a result, this inequality becomes part of the overall social structure.

Taxation

Many states have inheritance tax
Inheritance tax
An inheritance tax or estate tax is a levy paid by a person who inherits money or property or a tax on the estate of a person who has died...

es or death duties, under which a portion of any estate goes to the government
Government
Government refers to the legislators, administrators, and arbitrators in the administrative bureaucracy who control a state at a given time, and to the system of government by which they are organized...

.

See also

  • Beneficiary
    Beneficiary
    A beneficiary in the broadest sense is a natural person or other legal entity who receives money or other benefits from a benefactor. For example: The beneficiary of a life insurance policy, is the person who receives the payment of the amount of insurance after the death of the insured...

  • Inheritance law of Russia
    Inheritance law of Russia
    Inheritance law in Part III of the Russian Civil Code. Chapters 61 through 63 of the code are the basic statues concerning inheritance. In general, the Russian laws concerning inheritance are simple and straightforward...

  • Inheritance law in Canada
    Inheritance law in Canada
    Inheritance law in Canada is constitutionally a provincial matter. Therefore, the laws governing inheritance in Canada is legislated by each individual province.-Quebec:...

  • Digital Inheritance
    Digital inheritance
    Digital inheritance is the process of handing over digital assets to beneficiaries.- History :The Roman law introduced the concept of universal succession, which means that e.g...

  • Family law
    Family law
    Family law is an area of the law that deals with family-related issues and domestic relations including:*the nature of marriage, civil unions, and domestic partnerships;...

  • Inheritance Tax (United Kingdom)
    Inheritance Tax (United Kingdom)
    In the United Kingdom, Inheritance Tax is a transfer tax. It was introduced with effect from 18 March 1986 replacing Capital Transfer Tax.-History:...

  • Intra-household bargaining
    Intra-household bargaining
    Intra-household bargaining refers to negotiations that occur between members of a household in order to arrive at decisions regarding the household unit....

  • Old money
    Old Money
    Old money is "the inherited wealth of established upper-class families " or "a person, family, or lineage possessing inherited wealth." The term typically describes a class of the super-rich, who have been able to maintain their wealth across multiple generations.- United States :American locations...

  • Pubilla
    Pubilla
    A pubilla in ancestral Catalan tradition was the female that would inherit the whole rural estate in the absence of a brother.-Tradition:She was the female version of the hereu or male heir of the whole inmoval property of the family. Traditionally, when there was no male heir, the eldest girl of...

  • Succession order
  • Transformative asset
    Transformative asset
    Transformative assets are assets that may provide resources for social and economic mobility. Examples of transformative assets include homeownership and inheritances. These assets enable families to have access to resources or to achieve a social status that they would otherwise be unable to...


External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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