Hi, I’m attorney Sarah Siedentopf. I’m an estate planning and probate attorney in Atlanta,Georgia. What happens if you leave something to someone in your will but you don’t actually own it when you die?
Let’s say you leave your son your Ford truck, but many years down the road, you don’t own a Ford truck. Maybe you don’t own a vehicle at all, or maybe you own a Subaru. When the will is probated, he just doesn’t get it. If you’ve named a specific item and that item doesn’t exist, isn’t owned by you at the time of your death, we just move on almost like it’s erased. There is no substitution.
Now, if you give your son my Ford truck, or whatever vehicle I own at the time of my death, and we have a sort of “or” situation going here, and you do own a vehicle, then he’s going to get that substitute vehicle. But if you’re given something and it doesn’t exist when the will is actually probated, there is no right to a different object or an amount of money equivalent to it.
For specific gifts, if the object doesn’t exist, we just move on and you don’t get it. So, keep this in mind when you’re giving specific gifts to people. Make sure that you’ve thought through the likelihood of them getting it and how you’re accounting for that with other things. If you’ve got more questions and want to talk through this I’d be happy to talk to you. Thanks.