Why do I Need a Residuary Estate Clause?

When you draft and execute a will, your Maryland estate-planning attorney should ensure that your will has all mandatory clauses and terms to ensure the will is valid and accomplishes your wishes and goals. Because attorneys who do not practice in the area of estate planning may not be familiar with certain clauses for wills, it is prudent to seek the advice of an experienced Maryland estate planning attorney when executing your will. For example, a general practice attorney using a generic form may not understand the importance of inserting a Residuary Estate Clause into each will.

What is a Residuary Estate Clause?

Your residuary estate includes property you own at the time of your death that is not specifically given to someone in your will. It can also refer to property that you may have left to a certain person, but for some reason, the bequeath is not valid, so the property is included in your residuary estate.

A Residuary Estate Clause is important if you attempt to list each piece of property you own in your will or you make specific bequeaths of certain property to specific heirs in your will. The Residuary Estate Clause tells your Personal Representative, your heirs, and the court what should happen to any property you forget to list in the will or the remaining property you own that was not included in the specific bequeaths.

However, you should include a Residuary Estate Clause in your will, even if you bequeath your entire estate to one person or divide the estate between several heirs. Failing to include the clause could result in a portion of your estate being subject to Maryland’s intestate laws. Instead of you directing how your property is to be disbursed upon your death, the government dictates what happens to the property. 

Therefore, even though you may believe you do not need a clause to deal with a residuary estate, an experienced Maryland estate-planning attorney will include this clause in a will to reduce the risk that any portion of your estate could be subject to intestate laws.

Is a Residuary Estate Clause Complicated?

No, most Residuary Estate Clauses are one or two sentences in length. After the sections of your will giving property to specific heirs, a clause is inserted stating that the “rest and residue” of your property, wherever situated, both real and personal, of whatever nature, tangible and intangible is left to [insert name or names]. Just as with the rest of your property, you can leave the residuary estate to one person or divide it between multiple heirs.

Do You Need a Maryland Estate Planning Attorney?

Drafting and executing a will should be a priority for every adult. However, many individuals make excuses why they do not need to worry about drafting a will. Common excuses I hear for not having an estate plan include:

·      “I am single, and I don’t have children, so I don’t need a will.”

·      “I am too young to need a will.”

·      “I don’t have enough assets or property to be concerned with a will.”

·      “I don’t have time to engage in estate planning.”

·      “Estate planning is too expensive and time-consuming.”

None of the above excuses are sufficient reasons to avoid drafting a will or engaging in estate planning. Estate planning involves more than drafting a will. Your estate plan protects your property, provides for your heirs, plans for your incapacitation, and ensures your final wishes regarding your estate are carried out after your death.

Maryland estate-planning attorney Steve Thienel is dedicated to assisting clients in Maryland, Virginia, and throughout the DC Metro area. Contact Thienel Law, LLC today to learn more about your estate-planning and administration options.