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Per Stirpes – Meaning & Comparison


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Per Stirpes – Meaning & Comparison


It is a legal term. Demanding that should a beneficiary die before the testator. The person who has made the will. The beneficiary’s share of the action of inheriting goes to that beneficiary’s heirs.

But the term per stirpes is commonly used to refer to an individual’s assets under a will. It is sometimes used in the beneficiary designations for individual retirement accounts that are IRAs.

While per stirpes and per capita are similar. There are differences. Per stirpes in the Latin means by branch. Meaning, in this case, that a portion of the will must go to a person or that person’s heirs. Per capita means that any surviving descendants of the same generation are distributed property equally.

How Per the Stirpes Works?

Per stirpes, in the Latin for “by branch. It is referred to every person down a family tree beginning from another person. For example, everyone below a mother, like her children and her great-grandchildren. They included in a branch.

Per stirpes frequently appear in wills. The retirement accounts define asset distributions. So that each branch of a family tree is treated in accordance with the testator.

The account owner’s wishes. Children may stand as representatives of their parents. If a parent passes before the decedent. The Spouses are not considered in per stirpes distribution.

Comparison with Per Capita

Per capita means “by the heads.” It is also called “share and share alike.” Property is divided equally among surviving descendants in the same generation nearest the testator. The estate holder names each recipient’s individual.

It determines which group receives the assets. Like all estate holder’s children, grandchildren, or both. A deceased person’s share is not set aside. But is mingled with the estate and also divided among the other recipients.

For example, Meg identifies clearly her estate be divided per capita among her three children. They are Abby, Stephanie, and Scott. Abby has one child namely George.

Scott has two children namely Cora and Max. If Abby dies, her portion remains with Meg’s other assets. It is divided equally among her two living children. Namely Stephanie and Scott. Cora and Max do not receive anything.

Per Stirpes Example

Now it considers the same example. But this time Meg’s will identifies clearly her estate be divided per stirpes among her three children. That is Abby, Stephanie, and Scott.

Abby has one child, George. Scott has two children namely Cora and Max. If Abby dies, her portion will go to George. The next person on Abby’s branch of the family tree. Cora and Max again do not receive anything.

The Criticism of Per Stirpes

Creating a will is one of the most important processes a person can go through. But unfortunately, it can also be one of the most stressful and confusing. Occasionally, the use of outdated terms like per stirpes can only create more confusion. Especially when the term is not used properly.

For example, some lawyers have allowed their clients to use the phrase “to my children, per stirpes.” But this may sound straightforward. It is technically incorrect.

Instead, the will should read “to my descendants, per stirpes.” It is seemingly of little value distinctions in a language. Like this that makes all the difference in the courtroom.

In addition, different jurisdictions have slightly different definitions of the term. This is why it is critical that every lawyer takes the time to ensure their client does not have any incorrect opinion notions about the term’s meaning.

The Per Stirpes FAQs

Which is the better: Per Stirpes or Per Capita?

With a per capita arrangement, each beneficiary is given an equal share of the distribution. If one of the beneficiaries dies before the testator. The distribution remains with the other beneficiaries.

And the descendants of that beneficiary are not included. Ultimately, the feelings of the testator about their family’s dynamic should decide. Whether the per stirpes or per capita is used.

What is the opposite of Per Stirpes?

Per stirpes demand that should a beneficiary die before the testator. That beneficiary’s share of the inheritance goes to their heirs. Per capita takes the opposite approach. All inheritance is divided equally amongst the testator’s beneficiaries.

How does one write Per Stirpes is a will?

To use a per stirps correctly, one should make the gift to a person’s descendants. Like to person’s descendants, per stirpes.  In the general, the person should be one person. Not a class of people and the word is known descendants or issue. It must always appear.

How many generations does Per Stirpes cover?

Per stirpes determines that in the event of an out-of-order death. The inheritance would have been awarded to the beneficiary. That passed away is given to that beneficiary’s descendants. Thus for per stripes, it covers the grandchildren of the testator.

Is Per Stirpes a good idea?

Per stirpes is used more commonly than per capita. It is a great way to ensure the descendants of the original beneficiaries are protected. In the event of an untimely death.

The Bottom Line

Although, distributing a loved one’s assets after their death can be very stressful. Making sure the will has very clear terms. That those terms reflect true intentions. It can make the process much less difficult for the descendants.

Because some jurisdictions have slightly different definitions of Per Stirpes. It is important that one should clearly communicate the intentions to a legal professional.

So, this is the important information on the topic of Per Stirpes – Meaning & Comparison.

If any Queries or Questions is persisting then, please feel free to comment on the viewpoints.

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