Key Difference – Legacy vs Bequest
Legacy and bequest are two legal terms that are often used to discuss the last will of a person. Both refer to an amount of money or personal property left to someone in a will. However, in common usage, legacy is often used to refer to a gift of money whereas bequest is used to refer to personal property. Although this appears to be the key difference between legacy and bequest, these two are synonyms and can be used interchangeably in legalese.
What is a Legacy?
A legacy refers to an amount of money or property left to someone in a will. Historically, legacy referred to either a gift of real property or personal property.
Real property can be described as tangible landed property or incorporeal hereditament. Personal property can be described as everything that doesn’t come under real property.
However, in contemporary usage, legacy usually refers to a gift of money or personal property. Legacy is synonymous with the word bequeath although some people make the distinction that legacy refers to money whereas bequest refers to property. In addition, legacy is sometimes also used to refer to any testamentary gift irrespective of whether they are personal property or real property.
What is a Bequest?
A bequest refers to a property or gift given by a will. In the field of law, bequest is defined as a gift of personal property. This includes money, jewelry, stocks, bonds, shares, etc. Although the term devise is used interchangeably with bequest today, bequest is considered to be different from devise since devise refers to the gift of real property.
Types of Bequest
There are different types of bequests/legacies.
A gift of a specific item of property that can be easily identified from all other property in the testator’s estate. For example, a Monet painting.
A testamentary gift which must be paid from a specific source or fund. For example, a man can make the bequest: “I bequeath $10,000 to my housekeeper to be paid from my bank account at Federal Bank.”
A gift of property that is paid from the general assets of the testator’s estate. The amount is usually specifically stated, but the source is not mentioned.
A gift of the remaining portion of the property after payment of the administration expenses, creditors’ claims, and other bequests.
What is the difference between Legacy and Bequest?
- Both legacy and bequest refer to a testamentary gift of personal property.
- Technically they are not used to describe the gift of real property, but these boundaries tend to blur.
- Legacy may be used to refer to any testamentary gift whereas bequest is usually reserved for personal property.
- There are different types of legacy/ bequest such as specific, general, demonstrative, residuary, etc.