Legacies in Wills
Legacies in Wills

The following Wills & Probate guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Legacies in Wills
  • Kinds of legacies
  • Specific legacies
  • General legacy
  • Demonstrative legacy
  • Abatement of legacies
  • Legacies of stocks and shares
  • Failure of legacies
  • Payment
  • Preservation
  • more

Kinds of legacies

The terms 'legacy' or 'bequest' are generally only applied to a gift of money or personal item but they can also, in certain circumstances, refer to the gift or devise of land. In addition, the term 'legacy' may or may not include annuity, according to the context. This was explained by Sir William Page Wood, VC in Gaskin v Rogers(1866) L.R. 2 Eq. 284:

'… if you find simply the word "legacy" used, and a direction to apportion the property amongst the legatees, unless there be something apparent on the face of the Will which shows that the testator has not used the word in its ordinary legal signification, it will include annuitants. The expression 'pecuniary legatees' in itself, I do not think, would go further than this—it would exclude specific legatees, that is, legatees of mere chattels, but it would have no effect in excluding, prima facie, annuitants from taking the same benefit as they would have taken if the word had been 'legatees' instead of 'pecuniary legatees'. All these rules of construction are open to the general and cardinal principle of considering what you can collect from the testator's whole Will, as to words which themselves are not of such clear and definite import as certain other words which have their established and fixed meaning