Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Legacy Definition:

A gift of a chattel by will.

Related Terms: Endowment, Bequeath or Bequests, Legatee, Beneficiary

A gift of a chattel or an item of personal property by will.

Used interchangeaby with bequest.

For example, a legacy would be created if the testator wrote this in his will:

"I give $50,000 to the owner of duhaime.org and it is my hope that he or she uses this money to provide understandable legal information to the world through the Internet."

The person receiving the bequest is called a "legatee".

When a gift deals with land or real property, the word for that type of gift is devise.

The dictinctions have become blurred with the propensity of testators or their drafting lawyers to use the words interchangeably to the point where a Court asked to interpret a confusing will may ignore the word if the testator's intentions were clear as to the item of property, even if in error, the word devise was used for chattels or bequeath/legacy for the gifting of what is in fact real property.

The Quebec Civil Code (at canlii.com/qc/laws/sta/ccq) uses the terms "legs" and "legacy" extensively and without regards to the real or personal property distinction. Indeed, the Code calls the section dedicated to the rights of heirs, simply "legatees".

Dervied from the Latin word legatum.


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