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What Does ‘Per Stirpes’ Mean In Florida Last Will And Testaments?


If you have seen someone use the term “per stirpes” in a Last Will and Testament, you might wonder, “What does it mean?” Many Wills contain the words “per stirpes,” which is Latin for “by branch.”

The legal term “per stirpes” in a Will refers to how the Testator’s assets will be distributed to beneficiaries if they predecease the Testator (in other words, if a beneficiary dies before the Testator).

When a Testator’s beneficiary dies, the assets that belong to the deceased beneficiary will be evenly split between their own descendants. If they do not have descendants, their share of the Testator’s estate will be distributed among their closest surviving relatives.

If you are writing a Last Will and Testament, seek the legal counsel of a knowledgeable attorney in Florida to help you draft a legally binding and enforceable document. Schedule a consultation with a St. Petersburg estate planning lawyer.

How Does ‘Per Stirpes’ Work in a Will?

Let’s review an example of how “per stirpes” works in a Last Will and Testament.

Mary has two children, and her Will states that she leaves her assets to all her children equally “or to their issue, per stirpes” if they do not survive Mary. It means that Mary’s assets will be divided between her children equally if they survive her.

But what if one of Mary’s children, John, dies sooner? John has three kids (Mary’s grandchildren), so his share of Mary’s estate will be split among his children because of the legal term “per stirpes” in Mary’s Will. Mary’s surviving child will still receive half of the assets as stated in the Will.

Do You Need to Include ‘Per Stirpes’ in Your Will?

If you are creating a Last Will and Testament, you will want to make sure that your assets pass to your heirs. Including “per stirpes” in your Will helps ensure that your assets pass to your closest descendants in line even if you outlive your beneficiaries.

Basically, the words “per stirpes” in a Will is a designation in which beneficiaries inherit the Testator’s estate by right of representation. Having per stirpes in your estate plan ensures that the share of your estate that belongs to your beneficiary will be divided among their descendants if he or she predeceases you.

Whether or not you can benefit from having the “per stirpes” in your Will depends on your particular situation. Consult with an attorney to determine if you need to include the Latin phrase in your estate plan.

Talk to a St. Petersburg Estate Planning Attorney

A Last Will and Testament and other estate planning documents can contain a variety of confusing legal terms such as per stirpes. It is advisable to consult with a knowledgeable attorney to help you understand your options when developing an estate plan.

At Legacy Protection Lawyers, LLP, our skilled lawyers in St. Petersburg can help you with your estate planning needs to make sure that your Will and other documents reflect your wishes.

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