Maryland law recognizes three types of bequests: specific, demonstrative, and general. In Chalkwater v. Dolly, 108 Md. App. 539, 672 A.2d 673 (1996), the three types are defined and distinguished from one another. A specific legacy is:
“[T]he bequest of a particular thing, or money, specified and distinguished from all others of the same kind, as of a horse, a piece of plate, money in a purse, stock in the public funds, a security for money, which would immediately vest with the assent of the executor.”
Id. at 543-44, quoting England, Ex’r v. Vestry of P. George’s Par., 53 Md. 466, 468-69 (1880).
“[T]o constitute a specific bequest, there must be ‘a segregation of the particular property bequeathed from the mass of the estate, and a specific gift of a specified portion to the legatee’.”
Id. at 544, quoting Miller v. Weber, 126 Md. 658, 95 A. 962 (1915).
In contrast, a general legacy is:
“One which is payable out of the general assets of the estate of the testator, being a bequest of money or other thing in quantity, and not separated or distinguished from others of the same kind.”
Id., quoting Shamberger v. Dessel, 240 Md. 650, 215 A.2d 177 (1965).
Demonstrative legacies are characterized as follows:
“Demonstrative legacies partake of the characteristics of both general and specific ones. They are general in nature, but a certain fund or piece of property is pointed out as being primarily charged with their payment. The fund or piece of property (subject, of course, under certain circumstances to possible indebtedness, etc., of the testator) is primarily liable for their payment, but, due to their ‘general’ nature, if the fund or piece of property proves insufficient to pay them, the legatee may receive payment out of the general assets of the estate.”
Id., quoting Shamberger, 240 Md. at 655.The Restatement defines demonstrative bequests as a testamentary disposition which is primarily payable from a designated source, but is secondarily payable from the general assets of the estate to the extent that the primary source is insufficient. Examples include “a devise of ‘$5,000 out of my bank account,’” or of “$10,000 from the proceeds of the sale of my X-Y-Z bonds.” If, however, the devise indicates that it is to be paid only from a designated source (i.e., a devise of “$5,000 out of my bank account if that much money is on hand at my death”), the devise is specific and not demonstrative. Restatement (Third) of Prop.: Donative Transfers § 5.1 cmt. d.
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