Articles Tagged with “Specific Bequest”

In a recent post, I discussed how to dispose of special items of personal property by giving them to a particular named person – these are called “specific bequests.” Things.jpgThe specific bequests are usually the items that are most important or significant to the person making a Will – such as a stamp collection or jewelry that has been passed down through the generations to the oldest daughter, youngest son, etc. However, because most of us own many more items than the few we give away as specific bequests, this post will discuss how to dispose of the rest of the many items that you have acquired over the years.

In my standard Will, I define “Tangible personal property” to include all clothing, personal effects, jewelry, motor vehicles, household furniture and furnishings, household appliances, silverware, glassware, china, rugs, books, pictures and other works of art, stamp and coin collections, family memorabilia, and all other similar assets for personal or household use, which are owned at death, as well as the interest in casualty insurance policies insuring those assets against loss or liability. I specifically state that the term does not include any cash or securities (including common, preferred, and other classes of capital stock; warrants, options, or puts and calls; bonds, debentures, notes and other fixed income-bearing obligations, regardless of conversion privileges; and units of participation in common trust funds, investment trust stocks, and mutual fund shares) that are owned at death.

Most typical parents leave the personal property to the spouse and then to the children, to be divided among them as the children agree within a certain number of days (60-90 days is common) and if they can’t agree on who gets a few of the items, those articles in Divide.jpgdispute are sold, and the proceeds added to the residuary estate. The distribution of personal property among a group of people can be difficult, because to some, photographs are priceless or worthless – and the same can be said of china, a piano, antiques, etc. As they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. While sometimes my clients say they want the items divided “equally” among the beneficiaries, this is of course impossible – you can’t chop up the desk into 3 equal parts to divide it equally among your three children.

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624339_hands.jpgYes, definitely. Many of our clients want to leave some of their money to one or more charities at their death. Usually these gifts are made by way of a “specific bequest” – a gift of a specific amount of money to a particular charity upon your death or, if you die before your spouse or partner, at his or her death. For example, as a breast cancer survivor, if I wanted to give money to a local charity involved in the fight against breast cancer, my Will might state: “I give and bequeath the sum of Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000) to the Philadelphia Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, presently located at 125 S. 9th Street, Suite 202, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19107.” Or if my husband and I want to give a total of $5,000 to the same charity, in each of our Wills we could write: “If my spouse predeceases me, I give and bequeath the sum of $5,000 to the…”

In some circumstances, it makes more sense to define the gift as a percentage of your total estate instead of as a specific dollar amount. In that case, I could provide that 10% of my residuary estate would go to the Philadelphia Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure and the balance of my estate to my children.

Other clients only want to leave some or all of their money to charity if their entire family, spouse or partner and children die at the same time. I often add such a “wipe out” clause to a Will, especially when the family members travel together frequently.

What Charities Should I Choose?

When choosing the charities to leave your money to, give to the causes that you are most passionate about, reflecting on what makes you unique or what brings you the most 1159995_outcast_3.jpgjoy or what has shaped your life. My passions include Girls Inc. of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey. I am one of three daughters, and my husband and I have two daughters and a granddaughter. Girls Inc. helps local girls strive to be strong, smart and bold – what an incredible mission! Another passion is the Philadelphia Jewish Archives Center – a group that archives the history of the Jewish people in our local area. While our Jewish heritage is important to my husband and me, even more significant is the impact of Jews on the local history of greater Philadelphia, where my husband and I have both lived for our entire lives. Another passion is the Jenkintown Library – I am an avid reader and a Montgomery County resident who has enjoyed borrowing books from there. As you can tell, our charitable interests make clear the things that are of great import to us – females, the greater Philadelphia area, religion, history and books.

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