A bequest is one of those legal terms that come up in a lot of consultations with prospective clients. It’s a common term that is used in a will or trust. But when you try to create your own document on a website, you may see it populate in your document without any explanation. Prospective clients who have done a little homework before our first meeting often ask about “bequests” and how they work. As with the other parts of your will or trust, it doesn’t have to be intimidating. With a short discussion with your attorney, you’ll be able to drop the word into casual conversation like a lawyer…

If you’d like the Merriam Webster definition:

1  : the act of giving or leaving something by will : the act of bequeathing

2 : something given or left by will or transmitted from the past : something bequeathed

When it comes to your will or trust, there are two types you should know about.

Specific Bequests

This is the most common form. It is a gift to a specific person or organization. The gift is specified (i.e. “My 1963 Chevy Nova”) and can also be a specific amount of money. These are normally the first set of things distributed under your will or trust.

Residuary Bequests

The residuary version deals with the remaining assets in your estate. Even though you’ve planned it all out, there can be things that are left over after your estate is administered. Maybe you left money to a cousin who died. Or you left money to a charity that is no longer in existence. These types of assets then become part of your residuary estate and need to be distributed. This is accomplished by a residuary bequest (i.e. “I give my residuary estate to my local church’s capital campaign…”)

There are many different parts of a will that can seem intimidating because of the legal language that is used. But if you talk to your lawyer, you can usually learn about them quickly and be able to use them at your next dinner party.

Next Steps

If you don’t have a will yet, or if you have one that you may need to update, let's set up a Legal Strategy Session and we can review the best options for you.

Andrew Ayers
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I work with business and estate planning clients to craft legal solutions to protect their legacies.