Anaheim, CA asked in Estate Planning for Pennsylvania

Q: G-mom passed & left a bank account naming my dad as 20% beneficiary. My dad predeceased what happens to his share?

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2 Lawyer Answers
Mark Scoblionko
Mark Scoblionko
  • Allentown, PA
  • Licensed in Pennsylvania

A: Your question cannot be answered without having a lawyer look at the relevant paperwork. However, I will give you a conditional answer, based on several scenarios:

If the bank account was a joint account, and if your father died before your grandmother, his interest in the account would have passed to your grandmother and/or the other joint owners. If your grandmother left your father a 20% interest in a Will, the question is if she left it "per stirpes" or not per stirpes. The term, "per stirpes," means, "by the root." Thus, if the bank account was to pass to your father and/or to his children, per stirpes, the bank account would go to you and any of your siblings. If your grandmother did not leave the account per stirpes, or if she died without a Will, since your father died before your grandmother, neither he nor you would have any claim to the bank account, and it would go to other heirs. If, however, your grandmother died without a Will and you were the only heir, you would inherit the bank account.

Nina Whitehurst
Nina Whitehurst
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Crossville, TN

A: I agree with attorney Scoblionko and would add that if your grandmother left 20% of the account to your dad via a beneficiary designation on the bank account rather than under her will, then it depends on exactly how that beneficiary designation is worded (same as what attorney Scoblionko said about it depending on how the will is worded). If a contingent beneficiary was named, then it goes to the contingent beneficiary. If no contingent beneficiary is named, then it depends on how the beneficiary designation is worded and that means not just the names and percentages written on the form but the fine print of the beneficiary designation form. It might go to your dad's probate estate, or it might directly to his descendants (such as if the words "per stirpes" were used), or it might lapse and go to your grandmother's estate. You should hire a local probate attorney to help you out. Start by obtaining an actual copy of the bank beneficiary designation if you can.

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