Abatement and ademption: When bequests are not valid

You know that your family member in Michigan took estate planning to heart and followed all the steps necessary to ensure that you receive the items he or she wanted you to have. However, issues could still arise that take it out of your hands, in spite of any best intentions. We at the Bingham Legal Group, LLC, have often provided advice to beneficiaries who discover problems with a will.

The National Paralegal College explains that abatement occurs when your family member left you a bequest, but then after the expenses and debts are taken care of, that amount is not available anymore. If your loved one spoke to an attorney and understood that this was a possibility, he or she may have outlined the order in which the bequests may be cut or the amounts reduced. For example, the will may say that you are to receive $2,000, and your cousin is to receive $1,000. However, if the assets of the estate total only $1,500, the specified order of abatement may reduce your bequest to $1,000, and the cousin’s to $500.

In another situation, a will may state that you are to receive a certain item, but before the testator’s death, he or she sold it. This bequest failure is known as ademption. It could also occur because of damage to the item in question. Depending on circumstances, it may be that you would be entitled to any insurance money that resulted from a claim related to the damages. More information about bequests and assets is available on our web page.