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What You Need To Know About Specific Gifts Left In A Will

What You Need to Know About Specific Gifts Left in a Will

Most people have specific wishes when they create their will. It’s crucial for them to leave particular gifts or items to certain people. No matter what those assets are, they mattered, and they hold some type of value. Some of them are financially high in value; others are more sentimental than anything. It allows for further peace of mind when you know who will end up with the things you accumulated over the years. This is something many lawyers in Ontario, CA are quite familiar with.


What does the specific gift mean in legal terms?

As the name suggests, when there’s a particular amount of money or item that is left to a beneficiary in a will, that is referred to as a specific gift. Leaving $5,000 to your sister, leaving your car to your daughter, leaving a sentimentally valuable heirloom to your cousinthat all counts as a specific gift. It also applies when the gift is left to someone aside from family members: school, a nonprofit organization, and/or a charity.


Why would it matter to leave a specific gift or three in a will?

The reasons for leaving a specific gift or specific gifts in your will can vary. This can include, but is not limited to:


  • Making sure the executor you choose will have less to worry about in terms of asset distribution
  • Particular assets having their fate become fully planned out already. Think of your favourite books or your collection of jewelry; you’ll be able to decide who gets it down the line
  • Properly turning over a family heirloom or family heirlooms. Some of these have high financial value, but some are more sentimentally valuable than anything
  • Supporting a cause you’re passionate about, whether through a nonprofit organization, school, or charity avenue


What counts as a specific gift? 

Any estate lawyer will tell you that as long as the asset is something you own, then you will be able to leave it in a will. Some of the most common specific gifts are like the following:

  • A business
  • A real estate property such as a condominium, lot, or home
  • Cash
  • Funds that were held in a bank account
  • Possessions that are moveable (car, clothing, electronics, furniture, jewelry, etc)

That said, there are certain assets that can’t be left in a will as specific gifts, such as:

  • A pension plan, RRSPs, or life insurance (this will pass outside the will; beneficiaries are named directly on the policy/policies)
  • Joint bank accounts (passes by right of survivorship)
  • Property that’s in a trust
  • Property that’s owned jointly (this will pass outside the will, either through a designated beneficiary or right of survivorship)



A specific gift in a will is an asset that is particularly designated to a certain person or entity. Specific gifts include cash, a business, or possessions that are moveable like a car or furniture. Jewelry also falls under that category. On the other hand, things that can’t be left as specific gifts in a will include property that’s in a trust, a pension plan, and joint bank accounts.

Need an estate planning attorney? Contact Ontario Wills today! We offer quality legal advice on wills and estate plans by video conference.

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