This article investigates discourses on inheritance law and legal development in France, Germany, and the United States since the revolutions of the late eighteenth century. I argue that in each of the three countries a different set of normative and functional issues relating to the bequest of property has dominated and expressed itself in nationally specific discursive fields. The respective “repertoires of evaluation“ were formed in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries and show a surprisingly stable pattern that can be recognized even in today's debates on the issue. This I refer to as the longue durée of inheritance law. The distinct discursive fields exercise a dominant influence over the perception of problems associated with the transfer of property mortis causa and the strategies deemed feasible to solve them. Moreover, I argue that the different cultural frames matter for the institutional development of inheritance law. My aim is to contribute to institutional theory through investigation of a socially and economically important realm of legal regulation that has received little attention in recent sociological scholarship. The analysis is carried out within a multidimensional theoretical framework that acknowledges the influence of culture and ideas, but also considers changing socioeconomic conditions, as well as actor interests.