Practical Experience And Legal Knowledge Guiding You

What’s a residuary estate clause?

On Behalf of | May 8, 2024 | PROBATE & ESTATE ADMINISTRATION - Estate Planning

You’ve spent a significant amount of time thinking about what should happen to your possessions after you are gone – including certain special bequests. You’ve carefully selected a beneficiary for each of your most treasured mementos. 

What happens, however, if one of your chosen beneficiaries predeceases you? What if they don’t want what you leave them, or they lose touch and cannot be found at the time? This is where a residuary estate clause comes into play. 

It’s a fail-safe for your estate plan

In essence, a residuary clause in an estate plan addresses how any assets that remain in the estate should be distributed after debts, taxes, administrative expenses are paid and specific gifts are passed out. 

The residuary estate clause covers all of the little things that you probably haven’t addressed – from your paperback book collection to your clothes – as well as gifts that go unclaimed. Residuary clauses are important because:

  • It allows you to avoid partial intestacy: Most people don’t realize that their estate can be “partially intestate,” even with a will. That can complicate the probate process for your heirs and cause a lot of emotional grief to your loved ones (plus additional expenses).
  • It helps minimize familial disputes: It’s not uncommon for people to leave the residuary of their estate to their spouses. That can make it easier for the surviving spouse to feel more in control of their own situation, and it can keep squabbles over family heirlooms at bay.

A residuary clause is one of those things that is easy to overlook when you’re trying to write your own will, and it’s one more reason that you should consider legal guidance with yours.