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A bequest is a legal term that refers to the act of leaving behind property or assets to someone or an organization through a will or a trust. This transfer of property or assets can occur during the person's lifetime or after death. In addition, a bequest is a common estate planning tool to ensure that an individual's assets are distributed according to their wishes after passing away.

How a Bequest Works

A bequest is a provision in a will or trust that authorizes an individual to leave property or assets to an heir. The beneficiary can be a friend, family member, charitable institution, or any other entity to whom the personal wishes to leave a gift. A bequest can be a specific amount of money, a percentage of the estate, or a specific piece of property.

Moreover, when individuals create a will or trust, they can summarize their wishes to distribute their assets. It comprises any bequests they wish to make. Once the individual passes away, their executor or trustee is responsible for carrying out the instructions in the will or trust, including distributing any bequests to the beneficiaries.

Types of Bequests

There are several types of bequests, which can be into categories as follows:

  • Specific Bequest

    This is a bequest given to a specific person or organization. The gift can be in the form of cash, property, or any other asset. The recipient is named in the will; anyone else cannot change or alter the bequest.

  • Residuary Bequest

    This type of bequest is given to an individual or company after all the debts and expenditures of the estate have been settled. The remainder of the estate is then allocated to the named heirs. This type of bequest is valuable when the testator is skeptical of the total value of their estate.

  • Demonstrative Bequest

    This type of bequest is a gift of a specific amount of money or property from a specific source, such as a bank account or a particular piece of property. The bequest is paid from that specific source, and if the source no longer exists, the bequest is not paid.

  • Contingent Bequest

    This type of bequest is given to a person or institution only if certain prerequisites are met. For instance, a bequest may be contingent on the beneficiary reaching a specific age or graduating from university.

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Advantages of Bequest

Below are some key advantages of a bequest.

  • Tax Benefits

    A bequest can also provide tax benefits to both the person leaving the bequest and the beneficiary. For example, charitable bequests can provide significant tax benefits to the person leaving the legacy.

  • Ensuring that assets are distributed according to one's wishes.

    Bequest is an exceptional way to guarantee that an individual's assets are distributed according to their wishes. By creating a will or a trust, a person can ensure that their assets go to the people or organizations they choose.

  • Control Over Asset

    By making a will or a trust, a person can retain authority over their assets even after demise. It indicates they can guarantee their assets are used for their intended objectives.

Key Terms for Bequests

  • Estate: The total assets, property, and liabilities a person leaves after demise.
  • Executor: The individual appointed in a will to handle the estate distribution.
  • Inheritance: The act of obtaining property or assets from a deceased individual, usually through a will.
  • Probate: The legal process of distributing a departed person's estate.
  • Intestate: Dying without a will.

Final Thoughts on Bequests

In a nutshell, a bequest is an important estate planning tool that can help both the individual leaving the bequest and the inheritor. Nevertheless, bequest has disadvantages, such as higher legal costs, inflexibility, and the probate process. Therefore, it is essential to carefully consider all the factors before creating a will or a trust and seek the guidance of an experienced estate planning attorney. By doing so, a person can ensure that their assets are distributed according to their wishes and that their loved ones are provided for after their passing.

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