In Nevada law, “per capita” distribution refers to a method of dividing property or assets among a person’s surviving descendants, meaning each surviving person who is named, or each member of a class of individuals named, such as “children” would receive a share of the estate. If a person named, or a person in a class, dies before the grantor dies, their share is given pro rata (proportionally) to the remaining surviving beneficiaries. The share will not pass to their deceased child’s children, which can effectively cut out grandchildren in a particular branch of the family.
For example, let’s say Mary Beth Grantor, living in Nevada, wants to leave money to her three children $100,000.00 equally. If she chooses to distribute the money “per capita,” each child would receive an equal share of the total amount. Let’s also say that Mary Beth’s children each have two children (she has
six grandchildren). Mary Beth’s eldest child dies before she does. Even though she has two grandchildren with her eldest, they would be left out of the distribution and the $300,000 would be split equally among the remaining two children. Thus, the eldest child’s children are left in the lurch, perhaps at a time when they needed money to help with their deceased parent’s end-of-life expenses.
The “per capita” method of distribution is often used in situations where the number of beneficiaries is uncertain or where there are multiple branches of a family tree. In such cases, the distribution is made on a per-person basis, rather than by dividing the property equally between different groups or branches.
It’s important to note that “per capita” distribution may not always be the best option. Most folks prefer the “per stirpes” distribution plan which treats family branches in a more equal manner. Overall, “per capita” distribution is a simple and straightforward way to divide property or assets among a group of people, but not the most popular method. It’s important to consider all factors and circumstances before deciding on a distribution method.
by Travis Clark, Esq.