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Abatement of bequest is the process of determining the distribution of the assets left by a testator at his/her death among the various beneficiaries named in the will. It is done when it appears that such assets are insufficient to pay both the debts of the testator and the expenses of administrating his/her estate and also all of the legacies and devices called for by the will.
The following is an example of a state statute (Texas) on abatement of bequest.
Tex. Prob. Code § 322B. A decedent's property is liable for debts and expenses of administration other than estate taxes, and bequests abate in the following order:
1) property not disposed of by will, but passing by intestacy;
2) personal property of the residuary estate;
3) real property of the residuary estate;
4) general bequests of personal property;
5) general devises of real property;
6) specific bequests of personal property; and
7) specific devises of real property.