A testamentary bequest is a gift you leave through your last will and testament. Most people use their wills to leave inheritances to their children, other family members, or to charities or causes they support.
However, deciding what you want to give is a little more complicated than you might realize. There are four main types of testamentary bequests you can leave. Deciding on which type to leave is up to you, but you should talk to your estate planning lawyer about the effect each type has on your estate. Here’s what you need to know about testamentary bequests.
Bequest Type 1: The Specific Gift
A specific gift is an identified piece of property. When you leave a specific gift, you choose one or more distinguishable and readily identifiable pieces of property to give to someone. For example, if you are an art collector and have multiple paintings in your collection, you might leave specific gifts that give an individual piece, or pieces, to different people. You could identify these properties by their name, an identifying number or mark, or by any other means that would distinguish the property from the other pieces.
Bequest Type 2: The Demonstrative Gift
A demonstrative gift is still specific, but less so than a specific gift. Demonstrative gifts usually involve money from a particular source. For example, you might include a provision in your will that gives $5,000 to each of your three grandchildren, that money to be paid out of the proceeds your estate recovers from its sale of your art collection.
Bequest Type 3: The General Gift
The least specific kind of testamentary bequest you can leave is a general gift. As its name implies, general gifts do not specify a source, but instead provide for a general value. General gifts are usually money. For example, if you choose to give $5,000 to each of your three grandchildren and don’t specify from where that money should come, this is considered a general gift.
Bequest Type 4: The Residuary Gift
Finally, there is the residuary gift. This is a sort of catchall gift that is designed to take into account any of the specific property you didn’t give away through any other bequest. (A residuary is all the property left over in your state after your executor has distributed all the gifts and accounted for all estate expenses.)
For example, your estate might be worth $2 million. After your executor has paid the appropriate debts, probate fees, and distributed all the estate property accounted for in your will, there might be $10,000 left over. Your residuary clause will account for that $10,000 by leaving the residuary to a specified beneficiary.
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