Definition: Failed Gift

When a gift in a will “fails,” it means that the gift will not be distributed to a beneficiary as written in the will. The result of a failed gift depends upon the reason for the failure. For example, if a gift fails by ademption, it failed because the testator no longer owned the property at the time of death, so nobody will receive the gift. On the other hand, if a gift fails because the beneficiary failed to survive the testator, then the asset will be distributed in another manner, such as to a contingent beneficiary (if one is named), a descendant of the deceased beneficiary (if the anti-lapse statute applies), or as part of the residue.