Types of Testamentary Gifts

There are three types of testamentary gifts (devises):

1. Specific: A specific devise gives an actual item of property. Specific devises may be understood best by distinguishing between two sub-types:

a. Specific gifts of tangible property: “I bequest my Babe Ruth rookie baseball card to my son Bobby”

b. Specific gifts of intangible property: “I give my 400 shares of Facebook stock to my brother Ted.”

Specific gifts of intangible property must have language to set them apart from a general devise by indicating a specific item or set of items of intangible property. In the example above, the word “my” is meant to have this effect, setting the testator’s 400 shares of Facebook apart from just any 400 shares of Facebook.

2. General: A general devise is a gift from the general assets of the estate. Typically general devises are amounts of money: “I give my sister Sarah a sum of $10,000,” or (to contrast with the example above), “I give 400 shares of Facebook stock to my brother Ted.”

3. Demonstrative: a demonstrative devise is like a general devise, except the devise designates a source of payment: “to my daughter Sarah I give $50,000 to be paid from the sale of my 2005 ¬†Bugatti Veyron.”


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