All About Bequests

A bequest is the act of giving property written into a will. Normally, a bequest is used if personal property. Similar to a bequest is a devise, which is a gift of real property, rather than personal property. Bequests are often a part of the probate process. Normally, officials will inspect a decedent's will and determine if there are any bequests that are written into the document.

Some wordings in a will will have specific interpretations which will then result in a particular bequest. For example, if a will declares that "all the estate owned by the decedent should be bequeathed to a granddaughter at death" then the granddaughter will effectively inherit her grandparent's entire fortune.

There are two main types of bequests that are dealt with in the probate process. The first is a conditional bequest. This is a gift that will only be granted to the heir if a particular event has occurred by the time of the decedent's death. For example, a testator might write in the will that his son will receive all property, including the family residency, if he has a sound and reliable job at the time that the will is read. Other times, a testator may write that his daughter can inherit the summer home if she is married with children at the time of death.

Oftentimes, these conditional bequests are not created to be manipulative. They are typically practice, helping heirs to divide the property based on who has the biggest need. For example, a father may not want to will his home to a lazy son who hopes that he will simply inherit the money and be free from working.

A decedent may also want to provide full potential to his or her property, and hope that children will visit the property, therefore will the property to the child that is married and has provided that individual with grandchildren. Conditional bequests come in a wide range of forms. A testator may also will his or her car to a grandchild on the condition that the grandchild proves to be a safe driver and receives his or her driver's license.

In addition to conditional bequests, probate deals with executory bequests. These are bequests that will only be granted if a particular event occurs in the future. This is different than a conditional bequest, because in the conditional bequests the inheritance will only happen if the conditions have been met at the time that the probate process takes place. In executory bequests, the heir still has an opportunity to receive the property if he or she can meet the conditions of a particular event in the future.

For example, a testator may write that his grandchild can have the family boat if he graduates from college. While the heir may not have graduated yet, he can work towards this goal and will be awarded with his property once he has accomplished the condition. Oftentimes, testators will will property or finances to an heir when he or she marries or when he or she has children. These executory bequests are permissible in the eyes of the law and often help to accomplish the testator's wishes and make sure that his or her estate is used the way that that individual intended it to be.

Normally, recipients are not required to pay taxes on a bequest. This is not always true, and it is important to double check before allowing an exemption. Sometimes, donors are required to pay taxes on a bequest. Donors can be taxed through federal wealth transfer taxes, though these are typically only imposed on the incredible wealthy. If you want more information about bequests then talk with a probate lawyer today!