Are agreements regarding inherited property enforceable?

UPDATED: Dec 30, 2014

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Are agreements regarding inherited property enforceable?

There are 2 sisters who own rental income together left to them by their parents; the family understanding is that each sister will leave her half of these properties to each of their 2 children. Then, 3 months before 1 of the sisters died, the other sister had her create a living Trust. Now that the sister is deceased her children have asked about their inheritance (unaware of the living Trust) and have been told that the properties they thought they would be sharing were their aunt’s and would be going to her children upon her demise. Do the children that apparently lost their inheritance have any recourse?

Asked on December 30, 2014 under Estate Planning, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

The only "agreement" regarding inherited property which would be enforceable is a properly executed written will--that's what wills are, after all: the enforceable written expression of what will happen to property after death. No other agreement about what will happen to property after someone dies is enforceable--especially not an "understanding."

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