When you write your last will and testament, there are many things you need to keep in mind. You need to keep track of all your property so it can be properly dispensed to your heirs, you need to decide who will inherit, and you need to make sure your will is reasonably up to date. However, even someone who is diligent about updating their will can miss things, which is why a residuary clause can be so helpful.
A residuary clause is a statement in a will that designates one or more people to receive any money or property left over once all the designated money or property has been distributed from an estate. This “residue” can occur for a number of reasons, such as a will not being updated to reflect new property, or one or more heirs becoming unable to inherit for some reason (such as forfeiting their inheritance by contesting a will with a no-contest clause). This conveniently wraps up any outstanding issues by ensuring any unaccounted-for property will be allocated to whoever is designated the residuary beneficiary.
There are a few big reasons to have a residuary clause. First, it prevents your property from falling into intestacy, which is what occurs when a person fails to designate heirs for all or part of their estate. Intestate property is allocated according to a state intestacy statute by the probate court. Depending on your own family situation, this may mean someone will inherit something you don’t intend for them to have. Second, it allows you some wiggle room when it comes to allocating your property, which is particularly helpful if the nature of your assets is in flux (for example, if you have investments that can change radically over time).
If you want to write a will, form a trust, or explore other estate planning options, please call the experienced attorneys at Wingate, Kearney & Cullen, LLP. We have assisted and advised clients with asset planning and the transfer of wealth and made sure their needs are provided for. With law offices conveniently located in Brooklyn, New York, and Melville, New York, our lawyers are available to assist residents of the five boroughs of New York City and Nassau and Suffolk County on Long Island with their estate planning needs. If you are looking to develop your own comprehensive estate plan, call (718) 852-5900.