What are residuary clauses and why are they important in wills?

| Jun 24, 2018 | estate planning & probate, Firm News

There are many terms that play important roles in wills. Among these are residuary clauses.

A residuary clause is a kind of catch-all. It essentially is a will term that sets out what will happen with any property not specifically mentioned in the will.

What problems could not having a residuary clause in a will cause? Well it could lead to a person giving up control over what will happen with some of their property upon their death.

There are many things that could lead to property a person owns not being specifically mentioned in his or her will and other estate planning devices. The property may have been acquired after the estate plan’s formation and the estate plan may have never been changed to include it. The person may have simply forgotten about the property when forming his or her estate plan. Or the person may not have even been aware that he or she owned the property.

Without a residuary clause, when these sorts of things happen and a person passes away, property not addressed by the terms of a will or any other estate planning device could end up being distributed through state intestate law rather than based on the deceased’s wishes. However, if a residuary clause is present in a will, it is the deceased’s wishes (expressed through that clause) that stay in control.

As this underscores, what clauses a will has matter greatly. So, when forming a will, it can be important for people to seek out guidance on what terms a will can contain and what clauses is critical to not forget to include in a will.

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