General Gift

A Last Will is a critical document enabling individuals to dictate the distribution of their assets after their passing. 

Within this document, one can make provisions for various types of gifts.

Each serves a unique purpose in an individual’s legacy planning. 

One such provision is the “General Gift” or “Specific Legacy,” which plays a fundamental role in the distribution of one’s estate. 

In this comprehensive discussion, we will explore the concept of a General Gift and its legal implications.

Defining The General Gift

A General Gift in a will pertains to the bequest of a specific sum of money or a particular item of personal property

This type of gift, often called a “pecuniary legacy,” is distinguished from specific gifts that involve the bequest of particular assets.

The distinguishing feature of a General Gift is its reliance on the value of the assets within the estate at the time of distribution.

It is rather than the allocation of specific assets.

Legal Implications

All the legal implications are as follows:

Fulfillment Priority:

General Gifts are typically satisfied before specific gifts in the will.

This implies that the recipient of the general gift will receive their designated sum or property from the estate’s general assets.

This will be before those with specific bequests.

Residue Distribution:

Following the satisfaction of debts, administrative expenses, and general gifts, the remaining estate.

It is known as the “residue” and is distributed per the will’s residuary clause.

Specific gifts do not generally affect the residue unless explicitly stated in the will.

Key Considerations

The key considerations are:

Clarity And Precision: 

When drafting a General Gift provision, utmost clarity and precision are essential. 

Specify the exact amount or property intended for the beneficiary and ensure that the terms leave no room for ambiguity.


Consider contingencies if the value of the estate’s assets fluctuates between the will’s drafting and the actual distribution. 

For instance, you may want to establish a percentage-based allocation to ensure equitable distribution.

Regular Revisions: 

Estate planning is an evolving process. 

Periodic reviews and revisions of your will are necessary to accommodate any changes.

These will be in your financial situation, family structure, or the value of your assets.

Executor’s Duties: 

The will’s executor ensures the General Gifts are properly executed. 

It is crucial to appoint a trustworthy and capable executor who diligently carries out these responsibilities.

Professional Guidance: 

Given the legal complexities surrounding estate planning, seeking the counsel of a qualified attorney experienced in wills and estate law is strongly recommended. 

They can provide invaluable guidance in drafting, revising, and executing your will.

This can ensure that your General Gifts are administered in accordance with your wishes and applicable laws.

Example 1:

Background Scenario:

Sarah, a loving grandmother, wants to ensure that her grandchildren receive meaningful gifts when she passes away.

She decides to include a general gift in her will to leave a specific sum of money to each of her four grandchildren.

Will Clause:

“I give the sum of $5,000 to each of my beloved grandchildren, Emma, James, Lily, and Michael, to be used for their education and personal development.”

In this example, the general gift is the bequest of $5,000 to each of the grandchildren.

The assets are distributed equally among the named beneficiaries, and the purpose of the gift is specified – for education and personal development.

Example 2:

Background Scenario:

John, a philanthropic individual, wishes to leave a significant portion of his estate to his favorite charitable organization, the Sunshine Foundation, to support their ongoing work.

Will Clause:

“I bequeath the sum of $100,000 to the Sunshine Foundation, a registered charitable organization, to be used for the furtherance of their charitable purposes and projects.”

In this example, the general gift is the bequest of $100,000 to the Sunshine Foundation.

The recipient is a charitable organization, and the purpose of the gift is broad and intended to support the organization’s charitable initiatives.

This type of general gift is common in wills to leave a legacy for a cause or organization the testator cares about.