The literal meaning of a legatee is one who receives a legacy. Specifically, in the law of wills and property, a legatee is an individual who receives a portion of a testator’s estate, or rather the individual receives a legacy, which is personal property from a will. Although this term legatee is generally used to refer to individuals who inherit from a will regardless of whether it was real property or personal property, an individual who inherits real property from a will is known as a devisee.
Additionally, an organization can be a legatee if the organization is inheriting personal property from a will. The closest modern word equivalent to a legatee would be a beneficiary. The term beneficiary is sometimes used instead of legatee since it avoids the distinctions of legatees receiving personal property and devisees receiving real property.
[Last updated in June of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team]