Legacy Law and Legal Definition

The term legacy has different meanings, but in a legal sense, it is used to refer to a bequest in a will. Technically, legacy does not include real property (which is a "devise"), so legacy usually refers to a gift of personal property or money to a beneficiary (legatee) of a will.

A residuary legacy is a bequest of all the testator's personal estate, not otherwise effectually disposed of by his will. A vested legacy is one by which a certain interest, either present or future in possession, passes to the legatee. A contingent legacy is one which is so given to a person, that it is uncertain whether any interest will ever vest in him.

A legacy may be lost by abatement, ademption and lapse. When the legatee dies before the testator or before the condition upon which the legacy is given be performed or before the time at which it is directed to vest in interest have arrived, the legacy is lapsed or extinguished.