You expect to get an inheritance from your parents. Maybe you've even talked about it with them and contributed to their estate planning. You know there's always an outside chance that you'll get something from your grandparents, as well.
But what about more unexpected sources? Can you get an inheritance from anyone, or is there some sort of legal obligation to be in their family for them to pass assets on to you?
There is no obligation at all. People who decide to write a will can pick anyone they want. Granted, this can sometimes lead to disputes when the actual heirs find out that money is leaving the family, but it can happen.
There are examples of people picking beneficiaries at random out of phone books. One man became rich when an uncle he had not seen in roughly a decade decided to leave him a fortune. People have left money to caretakers, friends and other important figures in their lives. People leave money to charities all the time. In one case, a waitress befriended an elderly customer who regularly came to her restaurant, and he wound up leaving $500,000 to her.
The reality is that money can come from all sorts of sources. It may be completely unexpected. You may be shocked to find out what you received. Naturally, as noted above, these cases can sometimes have an added level of complexity since you are not in the family and other heirs may not be thrilled about the arrangement, so it is important to understand all of your rights during the estate administration process.