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residuary clause in a willThe residuary clause in a will distributes property in the residuary estate. As explained in the article Why List Beneficiaries in Your Will?, the residuary estate consists of property remaining after distributing all bequests and paying estate obligations. Therefore, when property exists in the residuary estate, the residuary clause will name a beneficiary to receive the property. Finally, to have a truly sound estate plan, a residuary clause in the will is necessary.

The Residuary Estate

Generally, there are many reasons why the decedent’s property becomes part of the residuary estate. The most common reasons are as follows:

  • The decedent overlooked the property and did not include the property in the estate plan.
  • Voided bequests due to the death of a beneficiary.
  • Property suddenly acquired just before death or after death.

Whether these reasons result from apathy or from unfortunate circumstances, the residuary clause becomes necessary to handle the property. Without a residuary clause in the will, consequences may occur.

The Consequence of Leaving Out a Residuary Clause in a Will

Generally, when property exists in the residuary estate without a residuary clause, the overall estate will become partially intestate. As a result, the probate court will decide who inherits the residue of the estate. 

To avoid such an unfortunate result, always add the residuary clause in a will. Even while using alternate beneficiaries, the residuary clause will handle property that may slip through the cracks. Accordingly, the residuary clause makes the estate plan a sound estate plan.

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