Here at Beyond, we think it should be easy to make your will. So you won’t find much legal jargon on our online will service — we save that for the will itself. But that doesn’t mean we’re not happy to answer questions! So, let’s talk bequests. What does ‘bequest’ mean, in a will? Are there different types of bequests? Let’s see.


What is a bequest in a will?

A bequest is the act of leaving someone a gift in a will. It could be money, a belonging, stocks, shares — anything you have to give away. 

When you leave someone a bequest (i.e. ‘bequeath’ them something), they become a beneficiary: someone who receives something through a will.


What about ‘devise’ and ‘bequeath’ – what’s the difference?

‘Devise’ is sometimes used for a bequest of property. It used to be the case that you’d call a gift of real estate (your house, for example) a deviser, instead of a bequest. Nowadays, most people tend to use bequest and bequeath as catch-all terms for any kind of gift in a will. 


What are the different types of bequests in a will?

Okay, so ‘bequest’ is easy to understand. But what is a pecuniary bequest, or a specific bequest? Here’s a quick breakdown:


What is a specific bequest?

Specific bequests in a will are gifts of particular items, or a set amount of money. For example, you might leave your sister your guitar, and your brother £1,000. These are both specific bequests.


What is a pecuniary bequest?

A pecuniary bequest is a gift of a specific amount of money. For example, you might leave exactly £300 to each of your grandchildren. So, it’s a type of specific bequest.


What is a residuary bequest?

A residuary or residual bequest is a gift of a portion of your estate after all the specific gifts, debts and taxes have been given away. 

For example, you might leave all your grandchildren £1,000 each as a specific bequest, and say that everything left over should be split evenly between your children — your children would be getting a residuary bequest. You can find out more about residuary bequests here.


What is a conditional bequest?

A conditional bequest in a will is a gift you leave to someone only if a certain thing has happened by the time you die. For example, you might say “I leave my son Paul my car, but only if he has passed his driving test.” Similar to the contingent bequest.


What is an executory bequest?

An executory request is a gift that can only be passed on after a certain event has happened in the future. So, for example, you might say you’ll give your daughter Susan your car, but only after she has passed her driving test.


What is a charitable bequest?

A charitable bequest is simply a gift you leave to a charity in a will. Legacy bequests make up a substantial portion of most charities’ income, so it’s a great thing to do. It can also help you reduce the amount of inheritance tax due. 


What is a demonstrative bequest?

A demonstrative bequest is a gift that needs to be taken from a specific source. For example, you might leave your friend Andy £200 from your bank account at Natwest. Or you could leave your cousin Bob £50 from the proceeds of the sale of your motorbike.


What is a general bequest?

A general bequest is a bequest that comes out of the overall estate, without a particular source of the funding named.


Ready to start making testamentary bequests?

Now that you have a solid bequest meaning under your belt, why not take 15 minutes to make your will now? 

Here at Beyond, you can create a legally binding will online, from home, for just £90. It’s quick, painless and easy-as-pie. Plus, you won’t have to pay a thing until you’re ready to download your finished will. Just click here to give it a try.


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