The Confusion About Bequests

The language used to make a gift through your will can be confusing sometimes.

We talk about making a bequest, but what is it really? The word “bequest” has its origins in Old English, and confusion often follows such early medieval terms.

A bequest was originally a transfer of personal property by will. By historical contrast, the transfer of real property (generally real estate and property rights attached to land) occurred through a devise. Today, the terms are interchangeable. Many people say a bequest can occur through any end-of-life transfer, not just through a will.

Charitable bequest provisions should be arranged in ways that minimize taxes and administrative costs. But what’s the best way to accomplish this, and will your heirs incur income or inheritance tax, or will your estate have estate tax or hidden income tax liabilities?

Does any of this confuse you? These issues confuse many people, and that’s a prime reason why too many put off writing a will. It is intimidating to some folks to set an appointment with an attorney and to discuss unfamiliar topics.

Fortunately there are ways to take the confusion out of bequests. I would be happy to send you a free no obligation “Will Kit” that can serve as a tool for assembling the estate planning information you and your attorney will need to prepare your bequest provisions. It explains in simple terms the basics, and even the extra steps to take to making a future charitable gift, if that is of interest.

To receive the Will Kit, call me at 614-338-2365 or email at jjacobs@tcfj.org.

Jackie Jacobs is the Chief Executive Officer of the Columbus Jewish Foundation, the Central Ohio Jewish community’s planned giving and endowment headquarters.

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