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.

Comments 8

  • LindaMarch 11, 2019 at 1:40 pm

    What type of gift are the following? Specific, general, etc.

    1. Will states "All property personal and real to be sold and the proceeds divided evenly between two children, Linda xxxx and Ron xxxx."
    (Dad owns two homes in Ga)

    2. A gift of $50,000.00 to son Larry xxxxx.

    • Hammond Law GroupMarch 12, 2019 at 9:24 am

      Hi Linda,
      Thank you for reading and seeking to learn more about the types of gifts. The first one is an example of a specific gift and the second is a general gift. Wishing you a wonderful rest of your week!

      Warm regards,
      The Hammond Law Group Team

  • Linda LoweMay 6, 2019 at 11:55 am

    In you examples above where you explain 4 types of Gifts, it says gifts of money without a source are considered a General gift but you called it a specific gift. I am a little confused.

    • Hammond Law GroupMay 6, 2019 at 1:47 pm

      Hi Linda,

      Thank you for reaching out for further clarification. The first one is in fact a specific gift because it mentions the property owned in Georgia. The second is general because the $50,000 could come from any part of the estate. Hope that helps. If you have any further questions please give us a call at 719-520-1474.

      Sincere regards,
      The Hammond Law Group Team

  • Julie RASMUSSENJune 5, 2019 at 12:33 am

    My aunt left me in her will a specific gift. It is her car a 2001 saab 93. It was very important to her that I get her car. The executor will not give me the pink slip and the tags were due in January, her husband had gone thru her documentation while she was dying but failed to pay for the tags. It is now June an in CA the fines can get large what should I do?

    • Hammond Law GroupJune 5, 2019 at 10:27 am

      Hi Julie,

      I would recommend reaching out to our networking of American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys near your home. You can find one here:
      While not all members will handle contesting, you can give one a call in your area to refer you to an attorney that does. Wishing you well in getting this matter sorted out.

      Kind regards,
      Tiana Rivera
      Marketing Manager

  • Tammie HoustonOctober 31, 2019 at 1:30 am

    It's good to know that there are reputable lawyers that can work seriously and respectively on making a draft for their client's last will. My mother is asking me to look for an estate lawyer so that she can entrust all the gifts that she will be giving to the clan once she lay down to rest. I love that you were able to differentiate all the 4 types of gifts in your article and I'll be sure to share it with mom as well.

  • Add Comment