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If your estate equals or exceeds a value of $1 million, or needs special estate planning tools like trusts, it may be best to talk with an attorney.
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Our Estate Planning Package includes a Last Will & Testament, Health Care Directive & Living Will, and Financial Power of Attorney to cover all of your basic estate planning needs.
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If you have minor children, you will want to name a guardian for them.
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If you have a pet or pets, you will want to name someone to care for them.
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If you want to give items or money to people or charities, you will want to make what are known as “specific gifts.”
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If you own a business or a share of a business, you will want to plan for succession of ownership.
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Do you want someone to handle your health care decisions if you are unable?

In case you are incapacitated, you will want to list your health care preferences and name someone to handle your health care decisions.
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Do you want someone to handle your health care decisions if you are unable?

In case you are incapacitated, you will want to list your health care preferences and name someone to handle your health care decisions.
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Do you have a spouse with similar needs?

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Thank you for taking our quiz!
Your answers suggest you might benefit from:

Speaking with
a FindLaw Attorney

Our directory of experienced, local attorneys can help you with circumstances such as:
What’s included:
  • Being part of a blended family
  • Caring for children with special needs
  • Establishing and maintaining trusts
  • …and any other concerns you have!
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Estate Planning Package

For One Person

$135
What’s included:
  • Last will and testament
  • Health care directive & living will
  • Financial power of attorney
  • Free HIPAA release form
  • A comprehensive plan — for less
  • Free changes and revisions for one full year after purchase
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Financial Power of Attorney

For One Person

$39
What’s included:
  • Try our easy step-by-step guide
  • Create your state-specific documents before you buy
  • Only purchase if you are satisfied with your estate planning documents
  • Create a power of attorney that’s customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free changes and revisions to your document for a full year after purchase
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Health Care Directive & Living Will

For One Person

$39
What’s included:
  • Try our easy step-by-step guide
  • Create your health care directive and living will before you buy
  • Only purchase if you are satisfied with your estate planning documents
  • Create a document that’s customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free HIPAA release form
  • Free changes and revisions to your document for a full year after purchase
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Last Will and Testament

For One Person

$79
What’s included:
  • Try our easy step-by-step guide
  • Create your documents before you buy
  • Only purchase if you are satisfied with your estate planning documents
  • Create a last will and testament that’s customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free changes and revisions to your will for a full year after purchase
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Estate Planning Package

For Two People

$255
What’s included:
  • Two wills, health care directives & living wills, and financial powers of attorney
  • Two free HIPAA release forms
  • You and your loved one create your own estate plans tailored to your individual needs
  • Attorney-approved documents customized to your state’s laws
  • Free changes and revisions for one full year after purchase
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Financial Power of Attorney

For Two People

$78
What’s included:
  • Try our easy step-by-step guide
  • Create your state-specific, attorney-approved documents before you buy
  • Only purchase if you are satisfied with your estate planning documents
  • Create an attorney-approved power of attorney that’s customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free changes and revisions to your document for a full year after purchase
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All done! Based on your answers, we recommend:

Health Care Directive & Living Will

For Two People

$78
What’s included:
  • Try our easy step-by-step guide
  • Create your state-specific, attorney-approved documents before you buy.
  • Only purchase if you are satisfied with your estate planning documents
  • Create an attorney-approved document that’s customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free HIPAA release form
  • Free changes and revisions to your document for a full year after purchase
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Last Will and Testament

For Two People

$149
What’s included:
  • Try our easy step-by-step guide
  • Create your state-specific, attorney-approved documents before you buy
  • Only purchase if you are satisfied with your estate planning documents
  • Create two wills customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free changes and revisions to your wills for a full year after purchase
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All done! Based on your answers, we recommend:

Health Care Directive & Living Will + Financial Power of Attorney

For One Person

$78
What’s included:
  • Try our easy step-by-step guide
  • Create your health care directive and living will before you buy
  • Only purchase if you are satisfied with your estate planning documents
  • Create a document that’s customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free HIPAA release form
  • Free changes and revisions to your document for a full year after purchase
  • Create your state-specific documents before you buy
  • Create a power of attorney that’s customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
Close

All done! Based on your answers, we recommend:

Last Will and Testament + Financial Power of Attorney

For One Person

$118
What’s included:
  • Try our easy step-by-step guide
  • Create your documents before you buy
  • Only purchase if you are satisfied with your estate planning documents
  • Create a last will and testament that’s customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free changes and revisions to your will for a full year after purchase
  • Create your state-specific documents before you buy
  • Create a power of attorney that’s customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free changes and revisions to your document for a full year after purchase
Close

All done! Based on your answers, we recommend:

Last Will and Testament + Health Care Directive & Living Will

For One Person

$118
What’s included:
  • Try our easy step-by-step guide
  • Create your documents before you buy
  • Only purchase if you are satisfied with your estate planning documents
  • Create a last will and testament that’s customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free changes and revisions to your will for a full year after purchase
  • Create your health care directive and living will before you buy
  • Create a document that’s customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free HIPAA release form
  • Free changes and revisions to your document for a full year after purchase
Close

All done! Based on your answers, we recommend:

Health Care Directive & Living Will + Financial Power of Attorney

For Two People

$156
What’s included:
  • Try our easy step-by-step guide
  • Create your state-specific, attorney-approved documents before you buy.
  • Only purchase if you are satisfied with your estate planning documents
  • Create an attorney-approved document that’s customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free HIPAA release form
  • Free changes and revisions to your document for a full year after purchase
  • Create your state-specific, attorney-approved documents before you buy
  • Create an attorney-approved power of attorney that’s customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
Close

All done! Based on your answers, we recommend:

Last Will and Testament + Financial Power of Attorney

For Two People

$227
What’s included:
  • Try our easy step-by-step guide
  • Create your state-specific, attorney-approved documents before you buy
  • Only purchase if you are satisfied with your estate planning documents
  • Create two wills customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free changes and revisions to your wills for a full year after purchase
  • Create an attorney-approved power of attorney that’s customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free changes and revisions to your document for a full year after purchase
Close

All done! Based on your answers, we recommend:

Last Will and Testament + Health Care Directive & Living Will

For Two People

$227
What’s included:
  • Try our easy step-by-step guide
  • Create your state-specific, attorney-approved documents before you buy
  • Only purchase if you are satisfied with your estate planning documents
  • Create two wills customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free changes and revisions to your wills for a full year after purchase
  • Create your state-specific, attorney-approved documents before you buy.
  • Create an attorney-approved document that’s customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free HIPAA release form
  • Free changes and revisions to your document for a full year after purchase

What Is “Residuary Estate” in a Will?

While “residue” may make you think of the icky bits left over in your kitchen drain, there is nothing unpleasant about being named the beneficiary of a residual estate. If you are drafting a will or named in a will as a residuary beneficiary, you need to understand the term.

Table of Contents

Estate Planning: Who Gets What?

Estate planning can include many different legal elements, like living trusts and powers of attorney, but a will is often the most important. A will sets out in writing who gets your assets when you die.

How does that work? You make lists of specific beneficiaries, often family members or close friends, to whom you want to give certain assets. For example, you might want to leave your house to a favorite sister, and other real estate to your brother. Or maybe you want to leave a special picture or other personal property to Aunt Em as a specific bequest.

When your will goes through probate, that property passes according to the instructions in your will.

Alternate Beneficiaries

When you draw up a will, it’s easy to assume that your relatives and friends will be alive when you die. But there are no guarantees that this will be the case. That’s why naming alternate beneficiaries for specific gifts is important.

An alternate beneficiary is a person who will inherit a specific gift if the named beneficiary dies before the testator. For example, your will might provide that a painting goes to Aunt Em, but if she is not alive, it goes to Uncle Henry. In this example, Uncle Henry is an alternate beneficiary.

Residuary Clause: Who Gets the Remaining Assets?

In an air-tight estate plan, every piece of property in the deceased person’s estate passes to a selected beneficiary. But few wills are this thorough. Often there are items of personal property left over.

For example, someone making a will might not include specific bequests for smaller items like household furnishings or that old record collection. And what about those boxes that have been in the storage unit for so long that nobody even remembers what’s in them?

That is the reason for naming a residuary beneficiary. A residuary beneficiary takes the left overs, a term that would work nicely as a residuary estate definition. Both the word “residue” and the term “residual” come from a Latin word meaning “to be left behind.” Whatever assets are left behind after the executor distributes all of the specific gifts are, taken together, the residuary estate.

Who Gets the Residuary Estate?

Anyone drafting a will should consider naming a beneficiary for the residuary estate. Include the name of this person in a residuary clause, the part of the will that identifies the residuary beneficiary.

What does a residuary legatee inherit? That depends on the terms of the will and who survives. The person named to inherit the residuary estate gets all the property and assets left in the probate estate after the executor distributes specific gifts and pays estate debts.

Understanding the Probate Process

It is easier to get an overview of how a residuary estate bequest works if you understand something about the probate process. When a person dies leaving a valid will, the executor files the will with the probate court.

The executor is the person in charge of moving the estate through probate. Their job is to distribute the estate according to the terms of the will. To do this, the executor must pull together all estate assets, from real estate to bank accounts, and figure out estate debts, including items like the decedent’s credit card bills as well as projected probate costs and estate taxes.

When the estate includes enough cash to cover the debts, the executor distributes specific bequests to the primary beneficiaries. If one or more of the primary beneficiaries isn’t alive, that person’s gift goes to the alternate beneficiary. If both the primary and alternate beneficiaries are dead, the gift remains part of the estate.

Once the executor pays the estate bills, everything that remains is part of the residuary estate and passes to the person named in the residuary clause. This includes that old record collection and everything else that was not assigned to a beneficiary in the will. It also includes specific gifts when neither the primary nor the alternate beneficiary survived.

Ready to Add a Residuary Estate to Your Will?

FindLaw offers a DIY service to easily create a simple will. If you have a more complex estate, you can find an estate planning lawyer in your area through our lawyer directory.

Estate planning solutions to fit your needs.

Written by:

FindLaw Staff

Contributing Author

Ally_Marshall_image

Reviewed by:

Ally Marshall, Esq.

Managing Editor