Arroyo Grande, CA asked in Estate Planning for California

Q: Does"per stirpes" always means proceeds do not pass to wives?

for Living Trust

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

A: Per stirpes is a Latin phrase that translates literally to “by roots” or “by branch.” In the estate administration context, a per stirpes distribution means that a beneficiary's share passes to their lineal descendants if the beneficiary dies before the inheritance vests. For instance, if a daughter passes after her parents pass, the daughter's share of the estate would pass to children.

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

A: Unless there is a separate provision giving the wife a share of the estate, then you are correct: the assets go to children or grandchildren. The Latin phrase "per stirpes" is often used interchangeably with "right of representation" meaning that if a person passes away, their "representatives" (i.e., children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, down the line...) will inherit instead of the person who passed away. So, each branch of the family tree will receive an equal share of the assets. For example: If a parent has two sons, one of whom died, then, when the parent passes away, the living son would get 50% and the other 50% would be split between the deceased son's children in equal shares. If the deceased son had two kids, each of those kids would get 25%. I hope that helps.

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