Failure of a Gift

Failure of a Gift

Sometimes when reading a will we find that the gift so legacy is made in the will either have been sold, they no longer exist or something else has happened to them. We are on occasions find that beneficiaries under someone's will themselves have died. In order to avoid concerns arising we suggest that individuals review they will at least every two or three years. This is asking the question is this what I want to happen to my assets, also asking all these beneficiaries themselves still alive. Things happen in life so the will which we write needs to reflect what the current situation is and our current views.


The property or assets which appears in a will may have altered, been sold, given away, may no longer exist or something else has happened to it. In such circumstances the gift is said to have adeemed. 


Where a gift lapses this means that a gift was given to someone who has predeceased the will maker. 


This means that the estate of the person who has died was not able to meet all the gifts or legacies under the will.

Other failures of gifts

It can be difficult sometimes to identify an intended beneficiary which can make tracing them a complex and expensive process. 

Unclear beneficiary. If the will says I leave £50,000 to my brother, if the will maker has three brothers which will brother do they mean.

Unclear joint beneficiaries. If the wheel says I leave £10,000 to my friends Mr and Mrs Next Door. Does this mean I leave £10,000 to each of them, £10,000 to Mr Next Door and £10,000 to Mrs next door. Or does it mean that I leave £10,000 between both Mr and Mrs Next Door.

Unclear gift. If the will says I leave my gold watch to Mrs Next Door. If the will maker owns three gold watches which one did they mean.

A beneficiary predecease is the will maker. In this situation the gift will then form part of the residuary estate of the will maker. The residuary is whatever is left in the estate after the debts, expenses and any other legacies have been distributed. To manage the situation in case a beneficiary dies the will can stipulate alternate beneficiaries. These are often the children of a beneficiary who may predecease the will maker.

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