Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Bequeath or Bequests Definition:

Gift of personal property or chattels by will.

Related Terms: Endowment, Legacy, Will, Legatee

The transferring or gift by will of a specific item of personal property or chattel, to a beneficiary.

Also known as a legacy.

The distinction is made between the gift in a will of real property (which is called a devise) and the transfer of other property, chattels or also known as personal property, the latter being bequests or legacies.

Hope diamondExample:

"I devise my real property at 1234 West Central Park, New York, New York to the owner of duhaime.org and I bequeath to him or her all of my jewelry including the Hope diamond which can be found in my sefatey deposit box, and I hope that he puts this bequest and legacy to good use in providing legal information to the world on the Internet."

The dictinction has been 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.

Even statutes have begun to blur the distinction: the Quebec Civil Code, at ¶754, refers to "where immovable property is bequeathed ...."


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