The 4 Types of Will Gifts

A lot of people first talk to an estate planning attorney because they believe they need to make a simple last will and testament. Many of these people believe that making a will is simple, and something that can be done quickly and effortlessly.

The legal requirements involved in making wills are relatively simple. If you know very little about wills, you might read about these requirements and determine that making these documents is a simple process. This isn’t usually the case. Though the requirements are simple, the choices you have to make can often be very complicated. For example, a person leaving a gift through last will and testament will have to decide what type of gift they choose to leave. Here is what you need to know about will gifts.

Four Will Gifts

A gift you make through last will and testament is known as a bequest. Any bequest you make can be placed into one of four different classes or types:

  • Specific gifts. When you name a specific property you want to gift to someone through your will, this is known as a specific gift. Specific gifts are easily identifiable, and are gifts you can readily distinguish from other property you possess. For example, if you own a collection of art, choosing to leave a particular work to your child or grandchild would be a specific gift. Further, specific gifts can identify collections of property without identifying the individual pieces. For example, you might leave a specific gift of the contents of a storage locker. Though the storage locker is easily identifiable, there could be numerous items located within it.
  • Demonstrative gifts. A demonstrative gift identifies property from a specific source, even though it doesn’t identify the individual gift. For example, you might want to leave a piece of your art collection to each of your grandchildren, but want to allow them to choose a piece for themselves. Because you specified the source, but not the individual items, this is a demonstrable gift.
  • General gifts. General gifts are commonly used to give money. Though they identify a specific value, they do not require that value to come from a specific source. For example, you might choose to give each of your four grandchildren $50,000. This is a general gift because it doesn’t specify from where that $50,000 should come.
  • Residuary gifts. Wills commonly include a residuary clause that gives the remainder of an estate to a specified recipient. The remainder is simply all the property left over in your estate after all the other gifts are accounted for, and after all estate expenses have been paid. Residuary gifts might state, for example, that you leave the remainder of your estate to your favorite charity or educational institution.

Author Bio

Catherine Hammond is the CEO and founder of Hammond Law Group, a Colorado-based estate planning law firm she founded in 2005. With a strong focus on protecting families from the legal consequences of disability and death, she creates comprehensive estate plans that minimize taxes, costs, and government interference.

A native of Denver, Catherine completed her undergraduate studies at Coe College in Iowa, and her Juris Doctorate from the University of Denver College of Law in 1993, concentrating on estate planning, tax, and mediation. Catherine is a member of various professional organizations, including WealthCounsel, ElderCounsel, the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, the Colorado Springs Estate Planning Council, and the Purposeful Planning Institute. Beyond her legal expertise, Catherine provides transformational coaching to support clients and their families through life transitions.

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