Posted by: Feb 01, 2021

Should You Make a Specific Bequest in Your Will

As you begin to think about what will happen to your estate when you pass away, there are numerous things you must consider. Most people understand that having a will is essential. But it is just as important to understand what should go in a will, especially regarding evaluating the need for a specific bequest.

Estate Planning

Getting things in order so that your wishes are met after you are gone is a process. Some aspects of your estate your attorney will address are:

  • Who your beneficiaries are; 
  • What your wishes are; and
  • The creation of your will.

Individuals often come in prepared to discuss those mentioned above. But they are just starting points. Taxes, creditors, trusts, etc., may come into play when addressing your estate. One question that your attorney will definitely address is whether you need to make a specific bequest.

Types of Bequests

There are different kinds of bequests. For each, your attorney will use unequivocal terms to indicate what your wishes are regarding your assets. Bequests types include:

  • General,
  • Specific,
  • Contingency,
  • Residuary, and
  • Charitable.

Whether or not you need the very narrow and precise specific bequest is best determined by you and your estate planning attorney.

Specific Bequest Definition and Example

When a person gives a particular item or property for a designated purpose, that is a specific bequest. The following is a specific bequest in a will example.

A long time professor at College X wants to leave something in his will for current and future students in the science department. One idea is for the professor to endow the College his science book collection for any use. The College could sell the books, place them in the college library as part of the general collection, or perhaps give them to the science department for general use. There are several options for what the university could do with the professor’s books.

However, that does not sit well with the professor. He wants more control over what he is giving and how it is used. So the professor decides he would like to bequeath to the College his personal telescopes:

  • For use by students who are current Astronomy majors, and
  • When supervised by an Astronomy professor.

As you can see, this is a much more narrow bequest.

Types of Specific Bequests

A specific bequest can be an item, but it does not have to be.

The two primary types of specific bequests are:

  • A specific bequest of money, and 
  • A specific bequest of property.

The college professor’s story provided you with a property bequest example. But that same person could have chosen a bequest of money. For instance, their will might state: “I give, devise, and bequeath College X the sum of $10,000.00, to be used for the following purpose: a one-time scholarship to the Astronomy major with the most financial need, as determined the year of my death by the financial aid department of College X.”

Should You Make a Specific Bequest in Your Will? 

First things first: Without a will, there is no mechanism in place to make a bequest. Protect those you love, protect your assets and protect your wishes by always having an up-to-date will. Discuss with your lawyer whether your situation and wishes warrant having specific bequests as part of your estate plan. Your estate planning lawyer can address all aspects of bequests and explain the ins and outs to you. In the end, their goal will be to leave you satisfied with the bequests you make or your choice not to make one.

The Curley Law Firm

Adam Curley is the founder and lead attorney at The Curley Law Firm. With over a decade of experience, Adam has a robust practice that includes estate planning. He received his Juris Doctor (JD) from South Texas College of Law, Houston, and his undergraduate degree from Texas A&M University. He is committed to the Texas community as a legal practitioner and long time resident. The Curley Law Firm is based in The Heights in Houston, Texas, and should be your first choice for your legal needs. Contact The Curley Law Firm today.