Per Stirpes Meaning in Estate Planning: Beneficiaries 101

In this article, weโ€™re discussing per stirpes meaning, use cases, alternatives, and more.

We will also be answering common questions we receive about per stripes from individuals considering wealth management structures, inheritance planning, and private banking.

This article is part of our free series on banking, estate planning, and the legal documents that surround them, including a free detailed guide to opening a private bank account for yourself and family members.

Feel free to use the table of contents to jump ahead to the sections most relevant to you.

Table of Contents

  1. Per Stirpes Meaning
  2. How Does an Estate Planning Lawyer Write a Per Stirpes?
  3. Frequently Asked Questions
  4. Do You Want Help Opening Bank Accounts?

Per Stirpes Meaning

Per stirpes meaning in estate planning is a condition that indicates how inheritance should be distributed in the event that a beneficiary dies before the testator. Distribution via per stirpes results in the heirs of a beneficiary inheriting their share of any inheritance.

An alternative to per stirpes inheritance is per capita inheritance. While per stirpes descendants receive inheritance based on their branch of the family tree, per capita inheritance is distributed on an equal basis. That said, a variation of per capita is per capita at each generation.

Not surprisingly, when deciding between per stirpes vs per capita inheritance, itโ€™s important for the testator to consider all of the factors that can impact their plans. This is best done with the assistance of a qualified wealth management advisor, who can help guide you through your options.

That said, the most common choice for inheritance distribution between the two options is the per stirpes clause. However, depending on the complexity of the assets, the breadth and depth of the family involved, and various other indicators, it can still be difficult to assess the implications of the choice. For this reason, it may be valuable for the testator and his wealth management advisors to prepare a per stripes family tree.

What Is a Stirpes Beneficiary?

A stirpes beneficiary is commonly an individual who receives inheritance as a result of their parent predeceasing both themselves and their grandparent.

In per stirpes distribution, the individual children of an original beneficiary (grandchild of the testator), receive the inheritance that would have otherwise gone to their parent (the original beneficiary).

The total inheritance that would have gone to the original beneficiary (the parent) is distributed equally among the stirpes beneficiaries, who are both children of the deceased beneficiary and grandchildren of the testator.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Below are a few of the most common questions we receive from people looking into the meaning of per stirpes.. If you have further questions you would like to ask our team, donโ€™t hesitate to get in touch.

Is Per Stirpes a Good Idea?

Per stirpes is generally seen as a good idea and is the most common form of distribution in a will. It ensures that the beneficiaries receive their equal share based on their branch of the family from which the inheritance is being received.

How Does an Estate Planning Lawyer Write a Per Stirpes?

An estate planning lawyer will write per stirpes with language like โ€œto [beneficiaryโ€™s] descendants, per stirpesโ€. There are additional variables that must be included as well, so a per stirpes clause should be written with the assistance of a legal professional.

What Is the Importance of Per Stirpes?

The importance of per stirpes is that it clearly sets the path for distribution in the event that one of the original beneficiaries passes away prior to the testator. This can avoid confusion, family conflict, and arguments at the time of inheritance, as it provides a clear road map for distribution.

Does Per Stirpes Include Spouse?

No, per stirpes does not include spouse. Instead, per stirpes distributes directly to the descendents of the testator, meaning their grandchildren. That said, there may be a provision allowing for a spouse to be guardian if the per stirpes beneficiaries are minors at the time of inheritance.

What Is the Downside of Per Stirpes?

The downsides attributed to per stirpes often depend on the complexities of the family, assets, generations, and more. With this in mind, itโ€™s important for each testator to consider the dynamics of their own families and plan for asset distribution in accordance with their own wishes in the event that a beneficiary predeceases them.

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