Legal Definition and Related Resources of Legacy

Meaning of Legacy

A gift of personal property by will. The person to whom the gift is given is called the legatee , and the gift or property is called a Dequest. See bequest . The word legacy accurately refers to s.f.s of personal property while the word devise refers to realty . But this distinction will not be allowed to defeat the intent of a testator and the terms legacy and devise nay be construed interchangeably or applied indifferently to either personalty or real estate if the context of the will shows that such was the intention of the testator. See Festorazzi v First Nat. Bank of Mobile, 264 So. 496,288 Ala. 645; also Caracci v Lillard, ‘III.2d382, 130 N.E2d514. Legacies are of t.r.e. kinds: (1) specific; (2) demonstrative; and (3) general . A specific legacy is the gift of something which the testator intends his legatee should enjoy and possess to the exclusion of every other thing however much that other may resemble same. By a demonstrative legacy is meant a gift which a testator intends to be paid in the first instance out of the fund which he designates as the fund for payment of same, but not to the exclusion of its being paid out of any other fund, if that fund which he intended to be the primary source of payment is not forthcoming. By a general legacy is meant a legacy with regard to the payment of which the testator expresses no intention beyond the intention that it should be paid. An example of a specific legacy will be a gift of my diamond necklace, my gold wristwatch. An example of a demonstrative legacy is a gift of a specific sum of money to be paid out of specified securities owned by a testator. Demonstrative legacies are also sometimes said to be a kind of species of general legacy. See Kramer v Kramer, C.A., 5 Ga., 201 F. 248. Sometimes said that a demonstrative legacy partakes of the nature of specific ones in that they are not liable to abate with general legacies on a deficiency of assets , and differ from them in that, upon failure of the fund, legatee will be entitled to receive the legacy out of general assets. See Baker v Baker, 319 III. 320, 150 N.E. 284. Also see will.

Legacy Alternative Definition

A gift by last will. The term is more commonly applied to money or personal property, although sometimes used with reference to a charge upon real estate. 2 Williams, Ex’rs, 947; 5 Term R. 716; 1 Burrows, 268; 7 Ves. 391, 522. Absolute Legacy. One given without condition, to vest immediately. 1 Vern. 254; 2 Vern. 181; 5 Ves. 461; 19 Ves. 86; Comyn, Dig. “Chancery” (I 4). Additional Legacy. One given to a legatee to whom a legacy has already been given. It may be either by an increase in a codicil of a prior legacy given in the will, or by another legacy added to that already given by the will. 6 Mod. 31; 2 Ves. Jr. 449; 3 Mer. 154. Alternative Lagacy. One by which the testator gives one of two or more things, without designating which. Conditional Legacy. A bequest whose existence depends upon the happening or not happening of some uncertain event, by which it is either to take place or be defeated. 1 Rop. Leg. (3d Ed.) 645. Demonstrative Legacy. A bequest of a certain sum of money with reference to a particular fund for payment. Williams, Ex’rs, 995. General Legacy. One so given as not to amount to a bequest of a particular thing or money of the testator, distinguished from all others of the same kind. 1 Rop. Leg. (3d Ed.) 170. Indefinite Legacy. A bequest of things which are not enumerated or ascertained as to numbers or quantities; as, a bequest by a testator of all his goods, all his stocks in the funds. Lowndes, Leg. 84; Swinb. Wills, 485; Ambl. 641; 1 P. Wms. 697. Lapsed Legacy. One which, in consequence of the death of the legatee before the testator, or before the period for vesting,’ has never vested. Legacy for Life. One In which the legatee is to enjoy the use of the legacy for life. Model Legacy. A bequest accompanied with directions as to the mode in which it should be applied for thfe legatee’s benefit; for example, a legacy to Titius to put him an apprentice. 2 Vern. 431; Lowndes, Leg. 151. -: Pecuniary Legacy. One of money. Pecuniary legacies are most usually general legacies, but there may be a specific pecuniary legacy; for example, of the money in a certain bag. 1 Rop. Leg. 150, note. Residuary Legacy. A bequest of all the testator’s personal estate not otherwise effectually disposed of by his will. Lowndes, Leg. 10; Bac. Abr. “Legacies” (I). Specific Legacy. A bequest of a specified part of the testator’s personal estate, distinguished from all others of the same kind. 3 Beav. Rolls, 349.

Synonyms of Legacy


  • bequeathal
  • bequest
  • bestowal
  • conferment
  • dispensation
  • disposition
  • disposition of personalty
  • dotation
  • endowment
  • gift by will
  • gift of property by will
  • grant
  • heritance
  • impartment
  • inheritance
  • legatum
  • testamentary gift
  • Associated Concepts: absolute legacy
  • alternate legacy
  • charitable legacy
  • conditional legacy
  • contingent legacy
  • cumulative legacy
  • demonstrative legacy
  • general legacy
  • indefinite legacy
  • lapsed legacy
  • pecuniary legacy
  • residuary legacy
  • special legacy
  • specific legacy

Related Entries of Legacy in the Encyclopedia of Law Project

Browse or run a search for Legacy in the American Encyclopedia of Law, the Asian Encyclopedia of Law, the European Encyclopedia of Law, the UK Encyclopedia of Law or the Latin American and Spanish Encyclopedia of Law.

Legacy in Historical Law

You might be interested in the historical meaning of this term. Browse or search for Legacy in Historical Law in the Encyclopedia of Law.

Legal Abbreviations
and Acronyms

Search for legal acronyms and/or abbreviations containing Legacy in the Legal Abbreviations and Acronyms Dictionary.

Related Legal Terms

You might be also interested in these legal terms:

Mentioned in these terms

Adeem, Ademption, Ambiguity, Bequest, Captator, Election, En Ventre Sa Mere, , Legatee, Residuary Legacy, Right Of Retainer, Satisfaction.


You might be interested in these references tools:

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Legacy in the Dictionary Legacy in our legal dictionaries
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Related topics Legacy in the World Encyclopedia of Law


This definition of Legacy is based on the The Cyclopedic Law Dictionary . This entry needs to be proofread.

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Legacy in Law Enforcement

Main Entry: Law Enforcement in the Legal Dictionary. This section provides, in the context of Law Enforcement, a partial definition of legacy.


See Also

  • Law Enforcement Officer
  • Police Work
  • Law Enforcement Agency

Further Reading




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