What happens if a specific gift you were promised under a will no longer exists at the time of the loved one’s death? The short answer is - the missing gift fails and you may have no claim to an equivalent benefit from the estate.

For example, if your father left you his Honda in his will and subsequently sold the Honda and bought a Mercedes, then you would no longer be entitled to the Honda. Nor would you be entitled to the Mercedes in its place. The same principle applies to real property. The result may seem harsh, but it is based on sound policy consideration.

That said, you can prevent the failure of a gift by addressing it specifically in the will. Using the same example above, if your father’s will stated that he wanted you to get the Honda, or any other car that he may acquire in substitution for the Honda, then you would have been entitled to the Mercedes.

This article serves as a reminder that it is always a good idea for people to review their will whenever circumstances change. Should circumstances change and a specific gift provided in a will no longer exists, you should make a new will or a codicil if you still intend to give the specific legacy to the named beneficiary.