What are Beneficiaries and Devises in Estate Planning?

What are Beneficiaries and Devises in Estate Planning?

A bequest is an estate planning term referring to personal property distributed through a will.  It does not include gifts of real property (such as a home or a farm or empty lot).  Nevertheless, sometime people use the work “bequest” to refer to all gifts made by wills.  The better word for that is “devise.” Beneficiaries are the designated individuals who receive your bequests or your devises.

Examples of beneficiaries

There are two main categories of beneficiaries: contingent and primary. A primary beneficiary is the person to whom you designate a devise. A contingent beneficiary is a person who will receive that property if the primary beneficiary has either passed away or cannot be found.

Examples of beneficiaries could include:

  • Minor children, in which case you will likely need to set up trusts to hold the funds or assets until the children become adults
  • Trustees of trustss, which can be named beneficiaries to hold assets for incremental disbursement or until a beneficiary reaches a certain age
  • Businesses or charities, in which case you will need a contingent beneficiary in case the designated organization no longer exists when you pass away
  • Other relatives or close friends

Examples of devises

The most common devises come in the following forms:

  • General devises, usually in the form of cash or property
  • Specific devises, in which you designate a certain piece of property or amount of cash
  • Percentage devises, in which you leave a certain percentage of your estate
  • Residual devises, which give portions of what remain of your estate after other devises have been made
  • Charitable devises, which are gifts left for charitable purposes
  • Demonstrative devises, or gifts made from a particular source

For further information on beneficiaries and bequests and how to make these decisions in your estate planning efforts, speak with a skilled Tampa will and trust attorney at BaumannKangas Estate Law.