What is Per Stirpes?
Per stirpes is a legal term stating that if a beneficiary dies before the testator – the person who made the will – the beneficiary’s share of the inheritance reverts to his heirs. Although the term by strain is commonly used to refer to an individual’s assets in a will, it is sometimes used in designating beneficiaries for individual retirement accounts (IRAs). Although the jumps per capita and per capita are similar, there are differences. Per capita, all surviving descendants of the same generation distribute the property equally.
If you die without a will, your estate reverts to your heirs in accordance with the laws of the state in which you live.
How Per Stirpes works
By stirpes, Latin for “by roots” or “by branch”, refers to each person in a family tree from another person. For example, everyone below a mother, like her children and great-grandchildren, is included in a branch.
Per stirpes often appears in wills and retirement accounts to define the distribution of assets so that each part of a family tree is treated in accordance with the wishes of the testator or the account holder. Children can present themselves as the representatives of their parents if a parent comes before the deceased. Spouses are not taken into account in the distribution by strain.
By Stirpes vs per capita
Per capita means “by the head”. Also known as “share and share in the same way”, the property is divided equally among the surviving descendants of the same generation closest to the testator. The estate holder appoints each beneficiary individually or determines the group that receives the assets, such as all children, grandchildren, or both of the estate holder. The share of a deceased person is not set aside but is mixed with the estate and distributed among the other beneficiaries.
For example, Meg specifies that her estate must be divided per capita between her three children, Abby, Stephanie and Scott. Scott has two children – Cora and Max. If Abby dies, her share remains with Meg’s other assets and is divided equally between her two living children, Stephanie and Scott. Cora and Max inherit nothing.
Key points to remember
- Per stirpes stipulates that the heirs of a beneficiary receive the inheritance if the beneficiary dies before the testator.
- The term refers to each person in a family tree from another person.
- Children can represent their parents if a parent comes before the deceased.
For example from Stirpes
Tom is a widower and father of three children: Debbie, Al and Paul. Debbie dies, leaving her two children, Sarah and Dennis, Tom’s grandchildren. If Tom’s Will divides his estate between his programs in equal parts by mixture but does not define how “the program in mixture” applies to the distribution, all of Tom’s living children and grandchildren are entitled to a share of his estate. However, if Tom’s will defines “jump show” as meaning that only the next generation inherits a share upon his death, Tom’s estate is divided differently: one-third each for Al and Paul, and one-sixth for Sarah and Dennis. If Tom’s son Al also precedes him, Tom’s estate is again divided differently: half for Paul and a quarter for Sarah and Dennis.