What Does Per Stirpes Mean?
Updated: Jul 25, 2021
Per stirpes is one of three common law survivorship options for dividing an inheritance among your children’s descendants (your grandchildren) in the event a child predeceases you. For example, if you leave assets to three children, but one of your children dies before inheriting, your will or trust should have default language detailing what fraction of the assets each of the deceased child’s children will receive. This is more complex than appears at first glance, because if two children die, what fraction of assets does each grandchild receive, if anything? Where one child left a single grandchild, and another left two grandchildren, should each grandchild receive an equal share, or should the first child’s single grandchild receive an amount equal to her two cousins
combined? The chart below highlights the three most common approaches to solving this issue. The first column, in blue, shows what happens when all children survive and
is included to contrast how the situation changes when the death of a child occurs. For each of the following situations, assume there are three children, Alice, Bill and Tim. Alice is childless; Bill has one child, Kate; and Tim has two children, Greg and Jen. However, Bill and Tim are no longer living. You may have wanted each child to inherit equally, but if one or more predecease you, how should the grandchildren inherit?
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