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Will and Inheritance Tropes

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Tropes about plots that involve a will and general inheritance drama.


  • Ancestral Weapon: Receiving a weapon once carried by an ancestor.
  • Disinherited Child: A descendant of the deceased was specifically disinherited.
  • Forging the Will: A will's contents have been tampered with.
  • Game Between Heirs: The inheritance is left up to a game or puzzle.
  • Greed: A not-uncommon motivator toward an inheritance.
  • Heir Club for Men: There must always be a male heir.
  • Heir-In-Law: Inheriting a title via your spouse.
  • Hidden Backup Prince: A member of the royal family is raised as a commoner and has to step up if the entire family is wiped out.
  • If You Die, I Call Your Stuff: Making a claim of one's possessions when they're about to do something extremely risky.
  • I'm Dying, Please Take My MacGuffin: A minor character hands the McGuffin to the heroes as he lays dying.
  • Inadequate Inheritor: The rightful heir is thought unfit for the prospective inheritance.
  • Inheritance Backlash: When something undesirable is left behind after its original owner died.
  • Inheritance Murder: Triggering an inheritance early by means of murder.
  • Insurrectionist Inheritor: The worthy heir is the one who rebelled against, stood up to or even tried to kill the deceased.
  • Legacy Character: A character whose identity is passed down to them from an older character in the form of a title, job or persona for the newer character to assume.
  • Lineage Ladder: A character may invoke a repetition of ancestors to justify inheritance, because if they don't inherit it, it'll break an established pattern.
  • Lost Will and Testament: The recently deceased's will is missing for some reason.
  • Notary Nonsense: Notarizing these types of documents adds significant legitimacy and can help to avert many of these tropes. Either for Rule of Drama or Funny in fiction, expect unrealistic depictions of notaries.
  • On One Condition: A condition must be fulfilled in order to obtain the inheritance.
  • Only Cares About Inheritance: A character cares more inheritance than someone's death.
  • Passed-Over Inheritance: The deceased leaves his belongings not to his closest family, but someone completely unexpected and usually not related.
  • Personal Effects Reveal: Going through the belongings of the recently deceased.
  • Pet Heir: A pet inherits a large fortune.
  • A Plot in Deed: The deed to a plot of land, often inherited from a will, serving as a MacGuffin.
  • Prestige Peril: Watch out if you get that prominent position... it's a death sentence.
  • Rebel Prince: He does or wants to reject his royal inheritance.
  • Rejecting the Inheritance: A character refuses their inheritance.
  • Royalties Heir: Someone is rich because a family member invented something profitable and well-known.
  • Siblings Share the Throne: No spares, just multiple heirs.
  • Silly Will: The bequests and conditions of the will are nonsense, made to screw around with the heirs.
  • Spare to the Throne: A second child, usually unprepared, set to inherit in case the firstborn is killed.
  • Spiteful Will: Using your will as a final middle finger to your relatives (or at least anyone you disliked in life who you anticipate will be present at your funeral).
  • Sucksessor: A successor who seems better than the old guy at first, but then proves to be worse.
  • Taxman Takes the Winnings: A character receives a large sum of money, only for almost all of it to go to taxes.
  • Tontine: A group of people take one or more collectively owned items of worth and put it in trust. The last surviving member of the group will then receive the items.
  • Unexpected Inheritance: An inheritance coming out of nowhere, usually from a family member who wasn't very close.
  • Unexpected Successor: A heir to the throne no one expected or trained to rule.
  • Video Wills: Leaving a parting message in the form of a recording.
  • Where There's a Will, There's a Sticky Note: The will is not made in the form of a legal document but in a much more casual fashion.
  • The Wrongful Heir to the Throne: The person next in line to inherit is completely wrong for the job.