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What Is a Bequeath? Definition, Uses and Importance.

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Bequeath is a legal term used to describe the act of leaving or gifting someone an item. This gifting is usually done following the demands of a deceased’s will or testament. 

When you bequeath property to someone, a group of persons, or an organization, they automatically become a part of your will’s beneficiaries. 

An example of items you can bequeath to an individual or organization are bonds, stocks, jewelry, cash, and real estate. You will provide these things through your will or a clearly outlined estate plan. These properties can also be bequeathed to friends, family members, charity causes, etc. 

Unlike what most people believe, a person doesn’t have to die before they can bequeath some or all their possessions to someone else. 

What is the importance of bequeathing?

Bequeath is important in a will because it helps to protect the beneficiaries. It also prevents family messes from occurring when you die and leave a tangible amount of wealth behind. 

How is bequeath structured?

There are two major means through which the probate court determines the type of property that has been bequeathed to an individual.

1. Are they conditional bequests?

Conditional bequests are just like the term implies – they’re been given out under a specific condition. There are terms attached, and if a person can fulfill those terms, they will have access to the property or gift item.

For example, a bequest may read; “my daughter, Alex, will get my car as soon as she turns 18”.

2. Are the bequests executory?

Executory bequests are given when a specific event occurs in the future. If the bequest ends up not happening, the probate court may never grant it.

There’s just a slight difference between the conditional and executory bequests; this is more reason why people find it hard to differentiate. 

However, the language and wording used to describe the two of them is what makes the whole difference. 

Difference between bequeathing and devise

They are both related probate terms that people tend to use interchangeably. 

“To Bequeath” means to entrust personal property through a will to another individual. While “To devise” signifies turning a gift into a real property of an individual through a will. 

Lifespan Of Bequeath

If the person whom the property is bequeathed to dies before the testator, it’s impossible for the bequest to take place. 

The assets or properties involved will then be given to another individual whose name has been listed in the will.  This, however, does not mean that the entire will is no longer valid. 

So, the timeline of the bequeathed property is valid as long as the beneficiary is alive to receive them upon the testator’s death. 

How is a bequest used?

As stated earlier, a testator can decide to leave a part of their property or assets for someone to benefit from it upon their death. 

During the probate process, an executor is appointed to the estate. They are lawfully permitted to take care of the assets in an estate after the testator’s death. The executor has to also ensure that an official letter from the Master of the High Court, stating the terms of their executorship is received. 

Not appointing the right executor is one of the commonest mistakes that people make regarding their will and properties they intend to bequeath. That’s because people that are in the same age group or one who barely have their interest at heart are appointed most of the time. 

For effectiveness, you need to look past your friends, relatives, or people who fall in the same age bracket as you when selecting an executor. Also, minors and children should be avoided at all costs. 

Finally, always ensure that the chosen executor is the best choice as the process of distributing the assets can be complex and time-consuming. See to it that they are trustworthy, understand your last wishes, and can function in your absence.

Synonyms for bequeath

The following are other ways of saying the term “bequeath”

  • Entrust
  • Impart
  • Bestow
  • Endow
  • Devise
  • Hand down
  • Grant
  • Devise
  • Commit
  • Transmit
  • Leave
  • Grant, and a lot more! 

What happens if you choose to bequeath an immovable property?

If you wish to transfer one of your fixed or immovable properties to someone, you should keep in mind that the process is somewhat complicated. So, you must seek the professional counsel of an attorney when drafting the terms of your will. This will ensure that your wishes are actionable and correspond with the legislation. Check out this informative blog on what to do if you inherit a house or a mortgage.

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