Estate Planning Pitfall: You Don’t Have a Residuary Clause in Your Will

There may be specific items that you leave for certain family members and loved ones in your will, including some of your most prized items and collectibles. Those possessions that are left over can be covered by a standard “residuary clause” in your will.

A residuary clause is a provision in a will to pass the residue of your estate to designated beneficiaries. This covers all of your stuff that you don’t list as specific gifts. You may decide to leave the residue of your estate to your spouse, or you may divide it evenly among your children if your spouse predeceases you. Often, a residuary clause included in one’s will determines how a large part of their estate is distributed.

A residuary clause ensures that all of your possessions that aren’t specifically addressed in your estate, including both known and unknown assets, will pass according to your wishes. Without a residuary clause, you may forget a valuable asset, or the designated recipient of a gift may die before you, and these items would pass under intestacy laws of the applicable jurisdiction.

Also, if you do not include a residuary clause in your will, things may become complicated if beneficiaries on insurance policies or retirement accounts haven’t been properly designated. Finally, if your residuary clause distributes all remaining assets to a trust, make sure this trust has the necessary provisions.

For assistance with your estate planning documents, contact us at Wilson and Wilson Estate Planning and Elder Law, LLC at 708 482 7090 for our main office in LaGrange, Illinois or at 847 656 8958 for our Northbrook, Illinois office.