The Definition of Ademption

Imagine, an older woman writes a will bequeathing her fine jewelry to her granddaughter. The woman collected precious gemstone necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and rings her entire life, and has amassed over $50,000 in jewelry. The granddaughter eagerly waits for the day that she will obtain the jewels. She plans to sell them all for profit, so that she can finance a grand vacation in Europe for her and a boyfriend. Unfortunately, the grandmother does not approve of her granddaughter's relationship. She confronts her about the boyfriend, but the granddaughter is saucy and snaps back at her grandmother.

Hurtful words are exchanged, and the grandma threatens to destroy all of her jewelry. In the end, she takes the beautiful gems and tosses them into a nearby river, so that her granddaughter will not benefit from her passing in the future. Naturally, the better thing to do in a situation like this would be to revise the will, so that the granddaughter is disinherited. But people sometimes do rash things, and maybe grandmother couldn't stand to see someone abuse the jewels that she had worked so hard to collect all of her life. This would be a type of ademption. Even though the granddaughter legally would inherit $50,000 worth of jewelry in the will, she will not inherit any of it because it does not exist anymore. She can't be reimbursed for the jewels using other parts of the estate.

There are two types of ademption, ademption by extinction and ademption by satisfaction. In an extinction ademption, a situation like the one above would apply. Also, ademptions by extinction occur when a person wills a piece of property to a future heir and then sells that property. For example, if parents owned a beach house and willed it to their son, but then sold the beach house, the son will not receive a reimbursement for the property. Some heirs might argue that they deserve whatever profit came of the transaction, but the law says that once the beach house has been sold it is adeemed by extinction. The same concept holds if someone wills an asset and then loses it. For example, if a mother promised her daughter that she could inherit her 1957 Ford Mustang, and then crashed the vehicle; the car would be adeemed by extinction. Whatever is not owned by the testator at the time of his or her death is no longer and asset that can be willed to anyone.

There is another type of ademption, which is called ademption by satisfaction. This occurs when a person gives his or her heirs all or part of the gift that he or she intended to give that person by the will. This comes in part with an advancement. If a nephew who will be included in his uncle's will asks for $10,000 as a lifetime gift, and the will says that he will receive $30,000, then he will only be given $20,000 when the estate is divided. This can also apply to real property. If a father allows his son to take possession of his yacht and changes the title, then this may be accounted for then the estate is being divided later on. When it comes to ademption, the estate administrator must be very careful. People can fight for more money if they do not believe that the finances they were granted while the testator was living were an advancement. Also, children might bicker if they discover that a valuable asset was lost or sold, and may try and demand compensation. Dividing an estate, with or without a will, can get very messy. That's why you will want a probate attorney to aid you in your probate procedures.