Residual Beneficiaries, Remote Contingencies, & Why You Need Them

Don’t make the mistake of skipping over these terms because you are under the impression that you don’t need an estate plan. If you are an adult with assets (or a family), you should strongly consider meeting with an estate planning attorney. 

In addition to asset protection, one of the benefits of estate planning is distributing your assets to people of your choice. Without a plan in place, your estate will pass through probate. After your debts are paid, the remaining assets get transferred to your heirs per the state’s laws. 

Residual Beneficiaries

Whether you choose to create a trust or draft a will, you can select residual beneficiaries. Another way of looking at a residual beneficiary is that you name a person who gets “what is left over.” If you want your brother to have your car (after you pass away) and want your spouse to inherit everything else, then your spouse is the residual beneficiary. 

Should you create a trust, you still have to name beneficiaries for the property and assets in the trust. Any remaining assets that have not gone to beneficiaries will go to the residual beneficiary. 

Wills work the same way but tend to be more complex. Why? Because the residual beneficiary gets what is left over from the entire estate, not just what is inside of a trust. 

Remote Contingents

These are your backup plans. For example, when you sit down with your estate planning attorney to write your will, you select beneficiaries to receive specific assets. What happens if the person you have chosen passes away before you? 

When you meet with your attorney, he may use the word “predeceased.” That is another way of saying that someone died before you. Your primary beneficiaries are your first choice, and the remote contingents get listed if the primaries cannot be located or have passed away. 

Anti-Lapse Statute

Talk to your attorney about whether your state has anti-lapse statutes. A “lapse” occurs when the beneficiary passes away before the person who created the will. If the beneficiary is not alive, the asset returns to the estate. 

In areas with anti-lapse statutes, the asset does not go back to the estate—it gets passed to the next heir. If a grandmother leaves a house for her daughter, but the daughter has passed away, anti-lapse statutes allow the house to go to the daughter’s daughter (i.e., her granddaughter). 

Jayaraman Law

Estate planning is a collection of documents hand-selected by your attorney to protect your interests. Jayaraman Law creates custom solutions for the people who need them the most. If you have additional questions regarding estate planning or need to modify an existing estate plan, contact Jayaraman Law to schedule your consultation


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Jayaraman Law

Jayaraman Law focuses on Estate Planning, Business Planning, and Real Estate. Each is executed with a passion for advocacy and serving clients. When your future depends on it, you need an experienced attorney. Our background is rooted in both the private and public sectors. Let our know-how be your greatest asset.