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What does "per stirpes" mean?

A legal term that may be in your last will or trust describes how assets are divided and distributed. "Per stirpes" describes how an estate is distributed among the descendants of a deceased person. In Latin, per stirpes means “by branch.” If a beneficiary pre-deceased the testator, their share would be passed to their children. Per Stirpes, it skips the spouse and goes down the bloodline of a beneficiary.

couple reviewing will with lawyer

Imagine you have a family tree with different branches representing different generations. "Per stirpes" means that if someone in one of those branches passes away before receiving their inheritance, their share goes to their own children or descendants instead of being divided among the surviving family members. It's like ensuring that each branch of the family tree gets its fair share, even if some members aren't around anymore.

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