Pasadena, CA asked in Estate Planning for California

Q: If a will indicates beneficiaries who predecease the testatrix, who is the lawful distributes to the estate?

B (NY) left her estate to two sisters; A (NY) and M (FL). The sisters both predeceased B. Beneficiaries to A's estate are her two children (NY). The beneficiaries to M's estate are brother P (CA), and niece, J (FL). P is the last living sibling to B, A, and M.

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2 Lawyer Answers
Julie King
Julie King
Answered
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Monterey, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Most Trusts and WIlls contain language stating who will receive a particular gift if the beneficiary passes away before the person who set up the Trust ("settlor" or "grantor") or Will. If your document contains this type of language, then whatever it says will be what happens. If your document does not state what happens when a beneficiary passes away before the settlor, then it's possible the gift will lapse, meaning the gift is not given to the beneficiary's heirs, but instead will be distributed with the rest of the estate (the "residue".) If you have any questions, you can hire a lawyer to read your document and tell you exactly what will happen to the gift. Best wishes!

Howard E. Kane
Howard E. Kane
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Oakland, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: I would begin with reading the Will. The Will could and should very clearly provide the answer. The original Will should be lodged with the court in the jurisdiction where the decedent lived. Since both A and M predeceased B, B's estate was never vested in the estate of either A or M. Hence, if the Will does not specify what happens in this scenario, then the intestate heirs of B stand to inherit per New York law.

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