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HMRC internal manual

Inheritance Tax Manual

Succession: Wills: Legacies and devises: background

The term ‘legacy’ or ‘bequest’ means a gift of money, household goods, or some other personal or moveable estate.

There are three types of legacy (IHTM12082):

  • specific,
  • general, and
  • demonstrative

A devise is a gift by Will of real or moveable property such as land, buildings and rights over land.

A residuary legacy or devise is a gift of what remains after payment of all debts, liabilities, expenses and other legacies.

Importance of classification

It is important to know the different types of legacy and devise because they are relevant for different purposes. These are:

  • Ademption (IHTM12083) - this only applies to specific legacies
  • Abatement (IHTM12086) - there is an order in which legacies are abated when there are insufficient funds in the estate to pay them in full
  • Interest - this is usually payable from death on specific legacies. But a general or demonstrative legacy carries interest from the time at which it is payable (usually one year after the death)
  • Expenses of a legacy - unless the testator (IHTM12001) directs otherwise, the expenses incurred by the personal representatives (IHTM05012) for the upkeep of property gifted by a specific devise or legacy are borne by the beneficiary. Expenses relating to any other assets are payable out of the testator’s estate as administration expenses.
  • Incidence of debts (IHTM12091) - the order in which legacies are applied in satisfaction of the testator’s debts.