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Understanding ademption

Most Florida residents have never heard of the word "ademption" and have no idea what it means. Ademption, however, is a very important legal word that Floridians should be aware of because it impacts the specific bequests they make in their wills.

As explained by BankRate.com, ademption applies to any property that the person making the will, i.e., the testator, bequeaths to someone in his or her will, but which property is no longer part of his or her estate when (s)he dies. For example, the testator may have sold the property or given it away prior to his or her death, or the property could have been lost, destroyed or even condemned prior to his or her death.

Actually, there are two types of ademption: regular and ademption by satisfaction. The former applies to the examples given in the preceding paragraph. Ademption by satisfaction occurs when the testator gives the property to the specified beneficiary before the will takes effect, that is, during his or her lifetime. For instance, if the testator bequeaths a diamond necklace to his or her daughter, but gives it to her as a birthday gift rather than making her wait until the testator dies to receive it, that is ademption by satisfaction.

Florida ademption law

Per Section 732.606 of the Florida Probate Code, certain property does not fully adeem under certain circumstances. Instead, the devisee, i.e., the person named in the will, has a right to receive a dollar amount from the testator's estate to make up for the value of the adeemed property. Such situations include the following:

  • If the testator sold the adeemed property during his or her lifetime and any portion of the sales price remains unpaid at the time of his or her death, the devisee will receive that amount.
  • If the adeemed property was real estate that was condemned and any portion of the condemnation award remains unpaid when the testator dies, the devisee will receive that amount.
  • If the adeemed property was destroyed by fire or other occurrence covered by insurance, the devisee will receive any insurance proceeds unpaid at the time of the testator's death.

To prevent ademption issues from arising, estate planners recommend that testators regularly update their wills to make sure they still reflect their wishes and that they still own all property devised in a previous will.

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