OK. So you are thinking about making a will. And you’ve decided who you would like to leave ‘specific gifts’ of your property to. (Read more about making specific gifts when you make a will in our article.)

What you have left of your property after your gifts is known in legal jargon used for will writing as the ‘residue of your estate’. The ‘residue’ is the term used to describe what property of yours is left over after the deduction of specific gifts, debts, legacies, tax and the expenses of administration.

If you decide not to make any specific gifts when making a will, but instead give all of your property to one person alone, then this gift is known in will writing legal jargon as a ‘residuary gift’ (i.e. they will receive the whole of your residuary estate) and this person will receive whatever is left after the necessary deductions (i.e. debts, etc.) have been made.

You must make a residuary gift when making your will, otherwise you will die partially intestate.

This means that any specific gifts and legacies can be distributed according to your wishes, but the remainder of your property, which makes up the residue, will be distributed under the rules of intestacy (outlined in our article Eight Reasons Why You Should Make a Will). This could result in a property distribution you may not have wanted.

Your residuary estate can be given to more than one person in your will but if you do so, you must state the share of the residue that each person is to receive, whether equal or otherwise.

DIY Will examples:

‘I give the residue of my estate to David Peter Ross, Susanna Hill and Nigel Jones in equal shares.’

or

‘I give the residue of my estate to my wife Gillian Ross (two-thirds share) and to my brother Richard Ross (one-third share).’

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