Everyone knows by now how important it is to have a complete estate plan in place. That plan usually includes a will, which is one of the oldest and most recognized ways to deal with the deceased's property and debts. To be a dependable instrument, however, a will must be updated on a regular basis, or you could risk having a will that is plagued by the issue of ademption. Read on to learn more about one of the consequences of failing to update a will.
There are really two ways to address the manner of bequeathing property.
Some take a simple approach and leave a "blanket" will. This means that the will is short and to the point and states that each child or each person named gets an even share of the property of the estate. That means that if there is $300,000 in the bank account, three siblings get $100,000 each. It also means that things like the family home must be dealt with by selling it or by one sibling buying out the others. This form of leaving property completely overlooks property that may no longer be available for one reason or another. For example, if a prized tea set or a piece of jewelry is missing from the estate, that is just one less item belonging to the estate. It's a very different picture than the will like the one below.
Wills can also be very detailed with each and every item inventoried and bequeathed to a particular person. If you want your nephew to get your pet cat, then your nephew will inherit the cat. Problems with this way of making out a will arise when a particular item of property is missing. For example, if the cat passes away and the will was never updated, then your nephew loses a piece of his inheritance, and there is no remedy. When the property named in the will is unavailable due to loss, theft or other means, that property cannot be adeemed.
There is a notable exception that pertains to the issue of cash. In the first scenario above, if the nephew had been on track to inherit some money to help take care of the cat, that portion of the inheritance cannot be adeemed and must be paid no matter what. Cash can never be adeemed and arrangements must be made to fulfill the inheritance even if other property must be sold to do so.
Speak with an estate attorney at firms like Thomason & Hessmer for more information about the need to update your will and how the issue of ademption could impact it.