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What is my residuary estate?

Your 'residuary estate' is everything that is left in your estate after your debts have been paid and the specific gifts detailed in Step 3 (if any) have been distributed.
With regards to your assets, the job of your executors is to:
1) Apply for the probate documents (the documents that prove to organisations such as banks etc. that the executors have the right to deal with your assets).
2) Collect in your assets (money from bank accounts etc.).
3) Pay your debts (out of your estate assets).
4) Distribute any specific gifts made in your will (if any).
5) Distribute the rest of your estate (your residuary estate) in accordance with the residuary clause in your will.

What is a 'Class' of people?

This is a group of people that can be identified by a common characteristic.
A typical example of a class would be 'my grandchildren'. The members of this class are easy to identify (the children of your children!).
It is better to use a class rather than naming all of your grandchildren in your Will, as you would otherwise have to amend your Will every time a new grandchild is born.
Note: if you are naming your own class:
1. the class members must be easy to identify:
- e.g. something like 'my friends' is too non-specific and subjective (unless you include a schedule specifically naming your friends)
2. the class must not be too big and unmanageable:
- e.g. something like 'everyone of the Christian faith in Hampshire' is unworkable for your executors.
Good examples of classes are things like:
- my brothers and sisters and nieces and nephews.
- my three team mates of the 1989 Portsmouth Bowls Cup winning team.
- my employees at Portsmouth Motors at the time of my death.
Class members conceived after the date of your death will not be included.

Which residuary clause should I choose for my will?

This depends entirely on your particular circumstances.
Read the guidance notes below for each clause.
Try out the different clauses and see which one works best for you.
Creating a new clause will delete an existing clause.

Wills For Free Offers five different residue clauses

The five different clauses for disposing of your residuary estate are explained below.
You must select the appropriate one for your particular circumstances.
Clause A: Standard family clause
"I give my residuary estate to my husband/wife/partner/civil partner, but if they die before me, I give my estate to my children in equal shares."
This clause gives the whole of your residuary estate to your spouse, partner or civil partner.
But if they die before you, then your estate is divided equally between your children (or grandchildren of any predeceased children).
Note: if you have a child from a previous relationship and die first, your current surviving spouse/partner is under no obligation to provide for your children on their death.
Note: the term 'children' also includes children legally adopted by you, but does not include your natural children that have been legally adopted by someone else.
Clause (B): To a class of people in equal shares
"I give my residuary estate to a class of people (e.g. my children/my grandchildren/my nieces and nephews etc.) in equal shares."
This clause leaves the whole of your residuary estate to a class of people in equal shares.
For more information about 'classes' see 'What is a Class of people?' above.
For example, if you leave your residuary estate to your grandchildren in equal shares, your residuary estate will be split equally between all grandchildren living at the date of your death. Any born later will not be included.
Clause (C): To one beneficiary, then to substitutes
"I give my residuary estate to a single beneficiary, but if that beneficiary dies before me, I give my residuary estate to other beneficiaries I name, either in equal shares or shares I specify."
This clause gives the whole of your residuary estate to one named primary beneficiary.
This primary beneficiary could be a person, a class of people, a charity or other organisation.
If the primary beneficiary is a 'person' or a 'class of people', you have the option of saying who you would like to inherit if the named person or a class member dies before you.
If the primary beneficiary is a 'person' you have the further option of saying whether your residuary estate should go to the substitute beneficiaries equally or in specified shares if the primary beneficiary dies before you.
Clause (D): To named beneficiaries in equal shares
"I give my estate to people I name, in equal shares."
This clause splits the whole of your residuary estate equally between beneficiaries you name.
Each beneficiary can either be a person, a class of people, a charity or other organisation.
If a beneficiary is a 'person' or a 'class of people', you have the option of saying who you would like to inherit their share, if the named person or a class member dies before you.
This clause gives the testator more flexibility for complicated distributions.
Clause (E): To named beneficiaries in shares I specify
"I give my residuary estate to people I name, in the shares I specify."
This clause splits the whole of your residuary estate between beneficiaries you name, in shares you specify.
The shares are expressed as a percentage of your residuary estate.
The total shares MUST add up to 100%.
Each beneficiary can be either a person, a class of people, a charity or other organisation.
For example, you could leave:
  • 20% to your brother, John Smith (person)
  • 35% to your cousins (class)
  • 15% to the RNLI (charity)
  • 30% to the Greens Political Party (other organisation)
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