What Does Bequest Mean?

Judge's Gavel and Court PaperworkWhen you are drafting an estate plan, there will be plenty of terms thrown around that you may not fully understand. It is important that you do your own due diligence to research these terms and, if ever you are not sure, ask your estate planning attorney. These terms often dictate major decisions in your estate plan – and not understanding them could mean that your beneficiaries, or even your own health, suffers.

A common term used in estate planning is “bequest.” You will hear this term frequently throughout the estate planning process – and it is an important term to understand before you sign anything.

What Does Bequest Mean?

Bequest is a gift of personal property – which can include stocks, bonds, money, jewelry, or other property owned by an individual. That property is gifted at the time of death, as directed by a decedent’s will. Bequest can also refer to your legacy – if you have established a legacy plan with your estate planning attorney.

It is important to realize that bequest is not the same as a “devise,” which is a testamentary gift of real property. While the terms are used interchangeably, they are not the same. When this does occur, a bequest gift of real property can happen only if the testator’s intention was to dispose of real property and it is clearly done so within the will.

Different Types of Bequests

There are different forms of bequest, which include:

  1. Charitable Bequest – This is a gift that is specifically intended to serve an educational, religious, political, or social purpose to benefit someone. It is aimed at the community, an individual in need of charity, or a particular segment of the community. These types of bequests can actually reduce your estate taxes that may be owed when the estate is left to your loved ones.
  2. Demonstrative Bequest – This is a gift of money that is paid from a source, such as your bank account or savings account. It is then given to the designated beneficiary.
  3. General Bequest – General bequests are a gift of money or property that is paid or taken from the general assets of an estate, and not from a specific fund. These are dictated by the terms of the will.

Before You Choose, Speak With an Estate Planning Attorney

Because there are different ways to bequest property or money, you will want to speak with an attorney. An attorney can help you decide which way is the best to reduce estate tax burdens on your loved ones, but also protect your estate from probate court or creditors. You may also want to explore your options for charity – and ensure that your will is executed in the way you planned it to be. The best way to do so is to speak with an attorney and not only explore your options, but get to know the process for estate planning in general.

If you are ready to draft an estate plan or you would like your current plan revisited, contact The Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. today. You can schedule a free consultation at 516-605-0625, or fill out our online contact form with your legal questions.

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