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Helping You Navigate Complex Legal Issues

What is ademption?

Gregory A. Lang

If you have been named as a beneficiary to an estate by a family member or friend in Hennepin, the prospect of receiving the asset or property bequeathed to you is no doubt exciting. Yet what if you were to find out that the property was no longer owned by your deceased loved one? Would your claim to it as the named beneficiary in his or her will still stand? This question inevitably leads to an in-depth evaluation of the legal principle of ademption.

Ademption is revoking the right of ownership of a beneficiary over property that a testator no longer owns. It comes down to the simple fact that someone cannot give you something that he or she has already given up. Thus, if it is discovered that your loved lost ownership of the asset he or she meant to leave to you either by sale, gifting, or destruction, you have no claim to that property.

You may be asking yourself how one could include property in his or her will that he or she no longer owns. Consider this scenario: your father drafts his will at an early age and lists you as the recipient of his home after he dies. He goes on to live several more years, and eventually sells the home to someone else. However, he forgets to amend his will to reflect the sale before he passes away.

What if the property in question is sold or gifted by another acting in your loved one’s stead while he or she is incapacitated? Minnesota state law says that you, as the designated beneficiary, are entitled to a general pecuniary devise equal to the value of the asset if ownership is relinquished by a guardian, conservator, or one acting under the authority of power of attorney. 

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