Definition: Residue

The residue of an estate (sometimes called “all the rest, residue, and remainder” of an estate) is the aggregate of all of the probate assets of the estate which have not otherwise been paid toward debts, expenses, or taxes of the estate, or given away in the testator’s will via specific gifts, demonstrative gifts, or general gifts.

A gift of the residue (also called a “residual gift”), is a class of gift that acts as a catch-all to ensure that none of the probate assets of the estate have been overlooked in the making of a will. A will typically includes a provision known as a “residue clause” that names one or more beneficiaries and one or more contingent beneficiaries for this gift.

When a will fails to dispose of all of the probate assets of the estate — such as a will without a gift of the residue, or one which fails to name a beneficiary for the residue who survives the testator — the assets that remain undistributed will pass to the testator’s heirs under the laws of descent and distribution in intestacy.