Claire McGee made a will
leaving $20k to her friend Hurd.
This is a general bequest. The estate can pay this from any source.
The will also said that her
stock and all of her monies in any bank should be split three ways between
This is a specific
bequest (aka a specific
legacy). These can only be paid by
the estate from that specific source.
Her son, the administrator of
her estate, sold her stock, took out the $30k from her bank account, and
bought savings bonds. Then Claire died. The son petitioned the court to
ask who the $30k should be given to.
There was nothing left in
the bank account, there was only saving bonds.
When you can't give an item
in your will to someone because you no longer own it, that's called an ademption
The will specifically gave
"monies in the bank" to the grandchildren, but there was
nothing in the bank anymore.
The Trial Court found that the
money should go to the grandchildren. Hurd appealed.
The Trial Judge felt that
bequests to whose who are "natural objects of the testator's bounty" should take precedence.
The Rhode Island Supreme Court
reversed and gave the $20k to Hurd.
Hurd argued that the savings
bonds were not stocks or money in the bank and therefore should not be
given to the grandchildren.
Hurd argued that the clause
about the grandchildren was a specific bequest, and that once the money had been taken out
of the bank and used to by savings bonds it no longer existed. The gift
to the grandchildren had been adeemed by extinction.
Alternately, the clause
about Hurd was a general bequest,
which could from any source, so it could be taken out of the bond money.
The grandchildren argued
that a savings bond is a fluid as cash, and that Claire intended the
money to go to the grandchildren.
The change to bonds was a form
change and not a substance
change, and shouldn't matter.
The Rhode Island Supreme
Court found that the money had been adeemed by the purchase of the bonds and there was no language in the
will that could be construed to show that Claire intended to give any
bonds to the grandchildren.
There are four types of
bequests. You fill gifts of the first type first, then if there is money
left over, you fill the gifts of the next type: