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Estate Planning Terms: Ademption – 3 Questions

Question 1: What is ademption?

Ademption refers to when a Will leaves a specific gift to someone, but, when the time comes to distribute those gifts, the person who made the Will no longer owns that property. In this situation there is nothing for the estate to give to the named beneficiary, so the gift has failed, or adeemed.

Question 2: How does ademption happen?

There are two ways for ademption to take place. Let’s say, for example, that you create a Will and leave your house to your children. Immediately after making the will you decide to sell your house and buy a boat. In this situation your children are not entitled to receive your old home because you do not own it anymore. This is known as ademption by extinction.

Let’s use the same example, but instead of selling the home you decide to transfer the home to your children soon after you make your will. Once you die this gift also fails because you no longer own the property. This situation is known as a ademption by satisfaction because the specific gift has already passed to the beneficiaries.

Question 3: Can I do anything if I am the beneficiary of adeemed property?

Probably not. A will is not a contract between the person making it and the people receiving gifts. Wills are simply expressions of the desires of the people making them, known as testators. Until the testator dies or loses capacity, he or she can use the property in whatever manner he or she sees fit. This includes destroying it, selling it, or giving it away. If that property was named as a specific gift in the testator’s Will but the testator no longer owns it upon his or her death, the beneficiary is not entitled to sue to recover it.

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