In estate planning, the terms used in a Will or Trust often have special meaning. The term “devise” is a good example. The term is commonly used in Florida estate planning. When we draft Wills and Trust, clients often ask what the term means. Section 731.201 (10), Fla. Stat. explains that “devise” has two meanings depending on whether it is used as a noun or as a verb.
When devise is used as a noun it means a testamentary disposition of real or personal property. In this context, testamentary refers to a situation where a Will or Trust controls after someone dies. When using the term “devise” as a noun in Will or Trust, it essentially means a gift, a bequest, or a legacy. These terms are essentially interchangeable. An example of the use of “devise” as a noun in a Will or Trust would be as follows: “To my nephew, Thomas Jones, I leave a devise of $100.00.”
When “devise” is used as a verb, it means to dispose of real or personal property by Will or Trust. The term includes to “give” or to “bequeath” an asset or property. An example of the use of “devise” as a verb in a Will or Trust would be as follows: “To my nephew, Thomas Jones, I devise $100.00.”
When using the term “devise” in a Will or Trust, the person receiving the devise or the one to whom a gift is devised is described as the “devisee.” A devisee is a person or entity designated in a Will or Trust to receive something owned by the deceased person. A devisee is essentially the same as a “beneficiary.”
When establishing your Will or Trust, it is important that you have a plan setting forth what devises you wish to make. The Will or Trust is your ultimate chance to designate who gets what. If you don’t decide, then state law will decide for you.
Before you meet with your estate planning lawyer, think about to whom you want to devise your assets. Stated another way, decide to whom you wish to leave your devises. Your lawyer can then take that information and put it into a Will or Trust in a form that is legally enforceable.