If a testator makes a will and leaves specific property to someone and then later sells or otherwise disposes of the property, the law says that the gift is “adeemed.” In other words, the person to whom it was given doesn’t get anything.
Ademption applies to specific gifts such as “I give my nephew my 10,000 shares of Exxon stock.” If the testator sells the shares before he dies or if he gives them away, then the person to whom he gave them in the will gets nothing. That’s assuming that the only
thing the person was due under the will was the 10,000 shares of stock.
Some of the legal issues surrounding the question of ademption are:
- What if the testator sells the property but the proceeds from the sale can be easily traced? Does the person to whom the property was given in the will get the proceeds?
- What if the property changes form such as a gift of “my 10,000 shares of Mobil Oil” where Mobil Oil is taken over by Exxon before the testator’s death and the shares are now 5,000 shares of Exxon?
- What if the testator becomes incapacitated and his guardian or someone who has a power of attorney disposes of the property?
- What if the testator has 20,000 shares of Exxon and before he dies he gives you 10,000 shares? Do you get anything under the will? What if he gives you 10,000 shares and sends a letter saying that these shares are your part of his estate?