Written by attorney Donald Michael Lins

Specific and Residuary Bequests in Florida

Specific Bequests: Specific Items or Amounts to Specific Beneficiaries

A Florida Will may leave a gift or “bequest" to a specific beneficiary. Sometimes this is done as a specific item such as real estate or sometimes it is a specific gift of money, stock etc. In drafting the Will, it is important to be as specific as possible in describing the item or amount to be received and to address what happens if that item is no longer in existence at the time of death. For example, if there is a specific gift of “all of my stock in XYZ company," what happens if at the time of death the XYZ stock does not exist because it was sold and used to buy stock in ABC company? If well-drafted, the Will could avert this problem by stating that the gift only applies if the decedent owns XYZ stock at the time of his or her death. A similar issue can arise if there are monetary bequests of a certain dollar amount but not enough money to pay the bequests. If a Will leaves bequests of $10,000 to each of four beneficiaries and if the estate only has $20,000, what happens? The answer is “It depends!" If the Will itself answers the question, then the Will terms prevail. If not, then the beneficiaries usually will receive a pro rata amount, i.e. $5,000 each. This is where good legal advice and precise drafting of the Will are important.

Residuary Bequests: Everything Else!

After making any specific bequests, the Florida Will should contain what is called a “residuary clause" in which everything not specifically gifted is addressed. The Will language usually refers to “everything else" as the “rest, residue and remainder" of the estate. This provision should identify who are the beneficiaries and what amount or percentage they will receive. An example of such a provision might be “To my children in equal shares" or “To John Doe (30%), Jane Doe (30%) and Adam Roe (40%), in the percentages designated."

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