Wills sometimes include a residuary clause to help cover items in the estate that were not specifically bequeathed. These remaining possessions and property are dealt with after the other gifts have been dispersed. The Massachusetts Appeals Court recently dealt with questions surrounding a residuary clause in a recent case (No. 16-P-715). The residuary clause in this lawsuit left “any monies remaining” in the estate to the testator’s live-in romantic partner. The executor of her estate and the partner both claimed that she meant for her one-half interest in a property shared with her brother to go to the partner. The brother’s estate claimed that since she did not devise her interest in this real property, the property passed through intestate succession to her now-deceased brother, her sole heir.
The central legal question hinged on whether or not “monies” included real property. The testator’s partner drafted her will by using a model provided to him. The testator executed it approximately six weeks before her death. The property in question was the testator’s childhood home. Her brother lived there with their mother until the mother’s death and then resided there the rest of his life. In her will, she chose, for unknown reasons, to exclude any mention of this property. Her will did include funeral arrangements, investments, a cash gift to a creative arts center, a yearly gift of $8,000 to her brother (who was alive at the time of her death) from a trust fund of $150,000, a gift of $150,000 to her partner, and several specific monetary gifts to charities and individuals. Property like her car, books, manuscripts, and personal possessions were also left to her partner. Real property was also mentioned in her will. Her share of the home bought with her partner was left to her partner, and a Cape Cod property owned with her brother was left to a couple who was to take possession after the life estate granted to her brother.