Estate Planning Attorney Lisa McDevitt Discusses How to Apply the Residuary Clause in a Will

Law Firm Newswire



Fairfax, VA (Law Firm Newswire) April 18, 2016 – Those who have recently divorced are advised to review their estate plans and update them to reflect any changes they wish to make.

If they have children, then one objective is to preserve any assets for their heirs in light of the divorce. While a will allows the grantor to avoid probate, and many assets may have been distributed in the form of gifts, there may be some remaining assets. The will may not identify each remaining asset that the grantor owns. The residuary describes a clause in a will that disposes of the remainder of the estate after all other gifts have been satisfied. The residuary clause serves as a catchall provision that makes certain that the will disposes of all property in the estate.

The residuary clause grants the right to the residuary estate to one or more designated beneficiaries. It includes property that may have been overlooked or for which no disposition was made. In addition, it can handle bequests that are void because of the death of the beneficiary. In addition, it includes property that was obtained by the grantor following the creation of the will, and thus, not addressed in the will.

“A residuary clause is needed to include any remaining assets that are unaccounted for in a will,” said Lisa McDevitt, a prominent Vienna, Virginia estate planning attorney. “Without the clause, the fate of such assets will be decided by the state.”

In the absence of a residuary clause within a will, any assets that are not bequeathed to anyone are transferred to heirs under the laws of intestate succession, which cover the distribution of assets belonging to people who died without a will. This would occur only after the probate court becomes involved. Even if the grantor’s estate appears to be small, a residuary clause is necessary. Otherwise, any remaining assets may pass to unintended beneficiaries, and not in accordance with the grantor’s wishes.

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