What happens if the person who was supposed to get a gift in your Will dies?

So you want your favourite person to get your stamp collection when you pass away and you make the appropriate arrangements in your Will to make that happen. But what happens if your favourite person passes away before you do?

When this happens, its called a “lapse” - the gift is said to lapse and what happens next depends on two things: (1) how that paragraph of your Will is drafted and (2) who your favourite person is in relation to you.

The first thing to remember is that if your Will specifies a back up person (called an alternate beneficiary), then the stamp collection would go to that person, but if your Will didn’t do that, then section 46 of the Wills, Estate and Succession Act would kick in.

Section 46 says that if your favourite person is your sibling or your descendant, then the gift would go to them. If your favourite person was a friend, then the gift would be added to the “residue” of your estate and be dealt with the same way your Will deals with the residue. The “residue” is the term for the assets that remain after all the debts have been paid and specific gifts have been given out.

This is just one small example of how getting legal advice can help you structure your estate so that what you want to have happen when you pass away actually does happen.