There are some Latin terms used in the legal profession to successfully describe certain processes, and this will apply to wills and trusts. You may see the terms “per stirpes” and “per capita” utilized, and we will provide an explanation of these terms in this post.
When you draw up a will or trust, you are obviously going to name beneficiaries to inherit the resources after you are gone. This is usually a rather simple and straightforward matter, but what happens if a beneficiary predeceases you and the document was never updated?
These Latin terms are used to answer this important question in a legally binding matter.
Ser Stirpes Beneficiary
The literal definition of the term per stirpes is “by branch,” and in this context, it is referring to a family tree. When the beneficiary succession is per stirpes, the descendent of a deceased beneficiary would receive their inheritance.
For example, let’s say that you have two children: a son named Brian, and a daughter named Jennifer. Brian does not have any children, and Jennifer’s son, Thomas, is an only child.
You are leaving equal shares of your estate to each of your two children, and the verbiage in your will includes the per stirpes designation. Sadly, Jennifer passes away before you do, and you never update your will.
Under these circumstances, Brian will receive his half of the estate, and Thomas will receive the other half as Jennifer’s descendent.
Per Capita Beneficiary
If the beneficiaries that are named in a will or trust are receiving their inheritances “per capita,” the descendent of a deceased beneficiary would not be in line for an inheritance.
Using the hypothetical situation with Brian, Jennifer, and Thomas, Brian would be the sole beneficiary if Jennifer predeceases you.
Attending to Details
You may never consider the possibility of a beneficiary passing before you do, but you can rest assured that an estate planning attorney would bring up the per stirpes versus per capita question.
This is one of the reasons why you should work with a lawyer to develop your estate plan.
Yes, there are do-it-yourself worksheets and downloads that you can access on the Internet, and many people think that this is a perfectly acceptable solution. However, the detail we are looking at in this post is just one of countless different things that need to should be considered.
There are people that are under the impression that legal assistance is cost prohibitive, but this is simply not the case. When we discuss our rates with our prospective clients, they are usually pleasantly surprised, and there is a difference between an expense and investment.
People often go to estate planning attorneys looking for damage control solutions after loved ones make costly mistakes. More often than not, the errors would have been avoided if they had received qualified legal guidance. In the long run, legal counsel will usually yield dividends.
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Need Help Now?
If you have already learned enough to know that you should work with a Los Angeles estate planning attorney to put a plan in place, there is no time like the present.
We know that it can be disconcerting to discuss personal matters with someone you have just that, and we take this to heart. When you choose our firm, you will feel comfortable from the start, and we will help you develop a tailor-made plan that is ideal for you and your family.
You can set the wheels in motion right now if you call us at 310-337-7696, and you can use our contact form if you would prefer to send us a message.