What Is a Specific Bequest?

There are many different questions that can come up during the estate planning process and one of them can involve whether or not to use specific bequests inside your will. Some people have the perception that leaving behind specific bequests sets your other beneficiaries up for potential conflict over the contents of the will.

Specific bequests refer to leaving a certain asset to an individual or multiple individuals. You might decide, for example, that a certain collection goes to one child and a vehicle goes to another.

Specific bequests, however, can also be used for liquid assets, such as your savings account or ownership of a particular stock being designated to one or more beneficiaries. It is a good idea to give serious thought as to which people should receive which property.

Don’t, however, try to use specific bequests inside your will as an effort to balance things out. When you create the plan, this might make sense but it’s important to remember that assets inside your estate don’t always stay the same value.

A bank account gifted to one child today could decrease in value over time whereas real estate gifted to another child for the purposes of balancing things out could increase in value. This can actually make things much worse between your beneficiaries in the long run. You can always use specific bequests in the right situation to achieve your goals but it’s good to talk this over with your estate planning lawyer to make sure it’s truly accomplishing what you intend.


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