Ademption is a concept in the law of wills. When a testator (the person who wrote the will) bequeaths a piece of property to a person, and no longer owns that property at the time of his or her death, the property is said to have been “adeemed.” When this applies to a specific piece of property (as opposed to money), the person who the property was left to will receive no gift at all, with respect to that property. If a certain sum of money is left to a person, and the estate does not have enough cash on hand to meet the obligation of the will, any residual assets in the estate will be sold off to raise as much of the money as possible, which will then be given to the beneficiary.
For example, suppose the will says “my car is hereby bequeathed to my son” and the testator has no car at the time of death, the beneficiary will receive no car, and will not be entitled to anything else as a substitute.
There are some grey areas. For example, if shares of stock are in the will, and are not owned by the estate at the time of death, the wording of the gift is important. If the will simply bequeaths “500 shares of stock in Microsoft,” and that stock is not owned by the estate, the estate could probably buy the stock, and give it to the beneficiary, or give the cash value of the stock at the time of death.
If the will leaves “my 500 shares of stock in Microsoft”, it is more complicated. In this case, it might be read as leaving a specific piece of property, in which case, the beneficiary would be entitled to nothing if the stock is not owned by the state at the time of death.
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Last Modified: 02-02-2009 02:54 PM PST