No parent really wants to think about the possibility that they will outlive one of their children. However, when you are making an estate plan, it is something that you need to do if you have multiple children. You need to decide how the deceased child’s portion of the estate should be divided.
The law has two basic Latin phrases for this situation: per capita and per stirpes. They are best illustrated by using an example. Let’s say you have two children: Jack and Jill. Jill has passed away and has left behind two children of her own. In a pure per capita distribution scheme, all of the people that could inherit are counted equally. Jack would receive one-third of your estate as would each of Jill’s children. In a per stirpes distribution, Jack would receive half of the estate and each of Jill’s children would receive one-quarter.
These Latin phrases only come into play when a child passes away before a parent and that parent has not changed his or her estate plan to reflect that. The best option is to change your estate plan whenever circumstances change. There is not always time to do that, however, so you should consider how you would want your estate to pass in the event of a child’s premature death.
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Duffy Law Office is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.