Estate plans can include a variety of documents and instruments, depending on the particular needs of the estate and the person wanting the plan. Regardless of the complexity or simplicity of the estate, however, a last will and testament should be part of every estate plan. Your will allows you to direct how your assets will be distributed, who you want to raise your minor children, and who you want to be in charge of your estate as it passes through probate. It is very important for you to make sure your will is kept up to date. Ademption is one of the reasons to keep your will current.
Ademption means that you have gotten rid of a particular asset that you specifically bequeathed in your will. This can be through selling an asset, destroying it, giving it away, or any other manner of transferring the asset completely out of your control. The result will be that regardless of what your will states, the asset listed in your will is no longer in your possession and no longer under your control. This also means that you can no longer validly give away this asset.
For example, if your will states that your favorite niece is to receive your antique pearl necklace, but you sell the necklace before you pass away, the necklace is no longer yours to give. Your niece cannot receive the necklace through your will. In other words, you cannot pass on what you do not own. The policy reason behind ademption is fairly certain: it is to ensure that those who purchase or receive property can be certain that the title or ownership to the property really does transfer, regardless of the terms of a will.
Ademption makes it very important for you to keep your will up to date. Returning to the previous example, if you failed to amend your will and failed to make other provisions for your niece in the will, she would end up inheriting nothing from you, even if that was not your intention. It can also result in unnecessary litigation. If you leave the pearl necklace in the will to your niece, but then you give it to your sister during your lifetime, your niece could try to state that your sister stole the necklace and it should actually come to the niece.
If you have questions about what you need to do to make sure your will is up to date and enforceable, call us today at (320) 299-4249. We have extensive experience helping our clients with all types of estate planning issues.