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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 the 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 inherits 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 2023 by the Wex Definitions Team]