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What is abatement?

Estate planning in Florida can be a challenge because you do not have exact knowledge of the future. The best you can do when writing a will is to make educated guesses about when you will pass on and what property and assets you will have to bequeath when you do. Circumstances can and do change, which is why it is both easy and common to revise the contents of a will. 

One circumstance that can change is the amount of money, assets and other property that you possess at the time of your death to leave to your inheritors. According to the National Paralegal College, sometimes there may not be enough available assets to cover the bequests that you make, pay off your creditors and cover estate administration expenses. When this happens, a process called abatement takes place in which certain gifts are either eliminated completely or reduced somewhat to allocate scant resources. 

You can plan for the contingency of possible abatement by determining the order in which you desire abatement of your bequests, specifying arrangements for this in your will. However, if you choose not to do so, there are laws in place that provide an abatement order for you. These laws can vary by state, but the common law rule of abatement states that real property and personal property bequests are last in the order of abatement, while any assets or personal property that the will does not dispose of is first, followed by any residuary property that is leftover after bestowing all the specific gifts. 

The information in this article is not intended as legal advice but provided for educational purposes only.

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