Estate planning attorneys must be very precise in their language. Part of this precision often involves using language that most people never come across. For example, the property left behind by a deceased person and addressed in that person’s Will is sometimes said to have adeemed, or has failed by ademption. Let’s take a look at what this means and how it might affect an estate.
Property that is no longer there
If you create will in which you choose to leave your boat to your brother, choosing to do this does not mean you must preserve the boat so that your brother will inherit it. Until you die you have the right to change your mind and to continue using your property whenever and however you like. If, for example, you sell your boat, your brother will have nothing to inherit once you die. This situation is known as ademption by extinction because the property specifically listed in the will is no longer yours when you die and therefore that part of the will has no effect. This does not invalidate the Will, it just means your brother can’t inherit what you no longer possess.
Property that is already owned by the intended inheritor.
Ademption occurs whenever a Will identifies the property that is not part of the estate. (Your estate is all the property and debts you had at the time you died.) While ademption can apply to property that an inheritor will never receive, there is a second option as well. Let’s say that instead of selling the boat you gave it to your brother shortly before you died. Since the intended inheritor already owns the property the will directs he should inherit, this is known as ademption by satisfaction. It also doesn’t invalidate a Will.
If you’d like to learn more about estate planning, and specifically the topic of living trusts, you can attend one of our free seminars were holding on August 14, 15th, and 16th in Port St. Lucie. Contact our office for more information.