Remainder Bequest

Remainder Bequest
Remainder Bequest
Full Overview Of Remainder Bequest

“DLS Solicitors specialises in estate planning and understands the complexities involved in ensuring that your assets are distributed according to your wishes after your passing. A vital part of this process is the concept of a remainder bequest. This overview will explore the details of remainder bequests, their significance, benefits, and practical considerations. Our goal is to provide you with a clear understanding of this important estate planning tool.”


What are Remainder Bequest?

A remainder bequest, also known as a remainder interest or remainder gift, refers to a provision in a will or trust that designates the transfer of assets to a beneficiary after the termination of a prior interest. In simpler terms, it is a gift that takes effect only after certain conditions are met, typically the death of a life tenant or the occurrence of a specific event. This type of bequest is often used to provide for multiple beneficiaries over different periods, ensuring a structured and orderly distribution of an estate.

Types of Remainder Bequests

Remainder bequests can be broadly classified into two categories: vested remainders and contingent remainders.

Vested Remainders

A vested remainder is a remainder interest that is certain to become possessory in the future. The beneficiary has a guaranteed right to the property or assets once the preceding interest terminates. Vested remainders can be further divided into two types:

  1. Absolutely Vested Remainder: This type of remainder is not subject to any conditions other than the natural termination of the preceding interest. The beneficiary will inherit the property once the life tenant passes away or the specified event occurs.
  2. Vested Remainder Subject to Divestment: In this case, the remainder is vested, but it can be divested if certain conditions are met. For example, a remainder might be given to a beneficiary, provided they survive until a certain age.

Contingent Remainders

A contingent remainder, on the other hand, is dependent on the occurrence of a specified event or the fulfilment of a condition precedent. This type of remainder does not provide a guaranteed interest, as the beneficiary’s right to the property is contingent upon meeting the stipulated conditions. Common examples include remainders that depend on the birth of a child or the beneficiary reaching a certain age.

Benefits of Remainder Bequests

Remainder bequests offer several advantages, making them a valuable tool in estate planning. Here are some key benefits:

  1. Flexibility in Estate Distribution: Remainder bequests allow the testator to provide for different beneficiaries over time. For example, a spouse can be granted a life interest in a property, with the remainder going to children or grandchildren after the spouse’s passing.
  2. Tax Efficiency: Remainder bequests can be structured to take advantage of tax exemptions and deductions, potentially reducing the overall tax burden on the estate. Charitable remainder trusts, for instance, can offer significant tax benefits.
  3. Asset Protection: By designating a remainder beneficiary, the testator can protect the assets from being dissipated by the life tenant. This ensures that the intended beneficiaries eventually receive their inheritance.
  4. Estate Planning for Blended Families: Remainder bequests are particularly useful in blended families, where the testator wishes to provide for a current spouse while preserving assets for children from a previous marriage.

Practical Considerations

While remainder bequests offer many advantages, there are several practical considerations to keep in mind when incorporating them into an estate plan.

Clear Drafting

Precision in drafting is essential to avoid ambiguity and potential legal disputes. The terms of the remainder bequest should be clearly defined, specifying the conditions under which the remainder interest will vest and the rights and responsibilities of the life tenant.

Selection of Trustees

In cases where a trust is used to manage the remainder of the bequest, it is crucial to select a reliable and competent trustee. The trustee will be responsible for managing the assets, ensuring the terms of the trust are followed, and safeguarding the interests of the life tenant and the remainder of the beneficiaries.

Potential Conflicts

Remainder bequests can sometimes lead to conflicts between the life tenant and the remainder beneficiaries. For example, the life tenant might have different priorities regarding the maintenance of a property compared to the remainder of the beneficiaries, who are focused on preserving its value. It is important to anticipate and address such potential conflicts in the estate plan.

Tax Implications

Understanding the tax implications of remainder bequests is vital. Different types of remainder interests can have varying tax consequences, both for the estate and the beneficiaries. Consulting with tax professionals and legal advisors can help structure the bequest in a tax-efficient manner.

Remainder Bequests in Charitable Giving

One notable application of remainder bequests is in charitable giving. Charitable remainder trusts (CRTs) are a popular estate planning tool that allows individuals to donate assets to a charity while still providing income to themselves or other beneficiaries during their lifetime. Upon the termination of the trust, the remainder interest is transferred to the designated charity. There are two main types of CRTs:

  1. Charitable Remainder Annuity Trust (CRAT): This type of trust pays a fixed annuity to the income beneficiaries, with the remainder going to the charity. The annuity amount is determined at the outset and does not change over time.
  2. Charitable Remainder Unitrust (CRUT): Unlike CRATs, CRUTs pay a percentage of the trust’s value, which is recalculated annually. This allows for potential growth in income payments if the trust’s assets appreciate.

CRTs offer several benefits, including income tax deductions, potential avoidance of capital gains tax on appreciated assets, and the satisfaction of supporting charitable causes.

Case Studies

To illustrate the practical application of remainder bequests, let’s consider a few hypothetical scenarios:

Providing for a Spouse and Children

Mr. Smith wants to ensure his wife is taken care of after his passing but also wants to leave a legacy for his children from a previous marriage. He sets up a trust granting his wife a life interest in their family home, with the remainder to go to his children upon her death. This arrangement ensures his wife has a place to live for the rest of her life, while the children ultimately inherit the property.

Charitable Remainder Trust

Mrs. Johnson, a philanthropist, owns a valuable piece of artwork. She establishes a charitable remainder trust, donating the artwork to the trust. The trust sells the artwork, and the proceeds are invested. Mrs. Johnson receives annual payments from the trust for the rest of her life, and upon her death, the remaining assets in the trust are transferred to her chosen charity. This arrangement allows her to enjoy income during her lifetime while supporting a cause she cares about.

Protecting Business Interests

Mr. Lee owns a family business and wants to ensure its continuity after his death. He grants his business partner a life interest in his shares, with the remainder going to his children. This allows the partner to continue managing the business while ultimately transferring ownership to the next generation.

Remainder bequests are governed by a combination of common law principles and statutory provisions. In the UK, the relevant legislation includes the Wills Act 1837, the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996, and the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. Understanding these legal frameworks is essential for effective estate planning.

The Wills Act 1837

The Wills Act 1837 sets out the requirements for creating a valid will, including the formalities of signing and witnessing. It also addresses the interpretation of wills and the distribution of assets.

Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996

This Act governs the management and administration of trusts, including the powers and duties of trustees. It is particularly relevant to remainder bequests involving trusts.

Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975

This Act allows certain family members and dependents to apply to the court for reasonable financial provision from a deceased person’s estate, even if they are not named in the will. It is important to consider the potential impact of this legislation when planning remainder bequests.


“Remainder bequests are a powerful and flexible tool in estate planning. They allow individuals to provide for multiple beneficiaries over time, achieve tax efficiency, and protect their assets. By understanding the different types of remainder interests, the benefits they offer, and the practical considerations involved, you can make informed decisions that align with your estate planning goals.

At DLS Solicitors, we are dedicated to helping you navigate the complexities of estate planning. Our experienced team is here to provide expert guidance and ensure your wishes are carried out effectively. Whether you are considering a remainder bequest for family members, charitable giving, or business interests, we are here to assist you every step of the way. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you secure your legacy for future generations.”

Remainder Bequest FAQ'S

A remainder bequest is a provision in a will that leaves the remaining assets of an estate (the residue) to one or more beneficiaries after all specific bequests, debts, taxes, and expenses have been paid.

A specific bequest refers to a particular item or a specific sum of money given to a beneficiary. In contrast, a remainder bequest pertains to the residue of the estate, which is what’s left after all specific bequests, debts, and expenses have been settled.

Anyone can be named as a remainder beneficiary, including individuals, charities, or other organisations. The testator has the discretion to choose who will receive the remainder of their estate.

If a remainder beneficiary predeceases the testator, the will should ideally specify an alternative beneficiary or contain a clause addressing such circumstances. If not, the residue may pass according to the rules of intestacy or other provisions in the will.

Yes, a remainder bequest can be contested on various grounds, such as lack of testamentary capacity, undue influence, or improper execution of the will. Beneficiaries or interested parties may challenge the will in court.

The value of a remainder bequest is determined by calculating the net value of the estate after all specific bequests, debts, taxes, and administration expenses have been paid. This residual value is then distributed to the remainder beneficiaries.

Yes, the entire estate, including remainder bequests, may be subject to inheritance tax if the estate’s value exceeds the tax-free threshold. The tax is generally paid from the estate before distribution to beneficiaries.

Yes, a will can include multiple remainder bequests. The testator can specify how the residue should be divided among several beneficiaries, either equally or in specific proportions.

A remainder bequest takes effect after all specific and general bequests have been fulfilled. It encompasses whatever is left in the estate once these prior bequests and all debts, taxes, and expenses are settled.

When drafting a remainder bequest, consider clarity in identifying beneficiaries, addressing potential predeceasing beneficiaries, specifying any conditions or proportions for distribution, and ensuring compliance with legal formalities for valid will execution. Consulting a solicitor is advisable to ensure the remainder bequest is clearly articulated and legally sound.


This site contains general legal information but does not constitute professional legal advice for your particular situation. Persuing this glossary does not create an attorney-client or legal adviser relationship. If you have specific questions, please consult a qualified attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

This glossary post was last updated: 16th July 2024.

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Our team of professionals are based in Alderley Edge, Cheshire. We offer clear, specialist legal advice in all matters relating to Family Law, Wills, Trusts, Probate, Lasting Power of Attorney and Court of Protection.

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