When you think about what you want to protect with an estate plan, you might not realize just how much you have. Valuable or significant assets, like homes, jewelry, and cash, certainly come to mind, but even after all the property is distributed and your debts are paid, there can still be considerable property left over.
Collectively, these leftover assets are called your “residuary estate.” If your estate plan does not include specific instructions about your residuary estate, that property will be subject to state probate rules and procedures.
If you wish to maintain more control, not to mention ease the administration process and prevent confusion among your loved ones, consider these options:
- Appoint a primary beneficiary of your residual estate, along with one or more alternates. Or even appoint multiple residuary beneficiaries to receive predetermined percentages of your residuary estate.
- Bequeath all or a part of your residuary estate to a charitable organization.
You might also consider bequeathing part or all of your residuary estate to a charitable organization.
Even if you think you won’t have much or anything left over once your debts are paid, having a clause in your estate plan to address your residuary estate can be an excellent idea. It works as a safety net for any items you might have overlooked, assets you receive after drafting your estate plan, or for when circumstances, like the death of a beneficiary, prevent your intended distribution of assets.