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What is Per Stirpes Distribution of an Estate?


There are three types of distribution plans to your beneficiaries that you should be aware of when thinking about how your estate will be divided up and administered. One of those plans is “Per stirpes,” which is a Latin term, meaning “by branch” used in estate planning. In Nevada, it refers to a method of distributing assets in a will or trust when a beneficiary (most of the time your child) has passed away before the surviving grantor(s). A grantor, trust maker, trust settlor, or testator, are all names given to the person who created the trust. So, when a person to whom you are giving a portion or all of your estate dies before you do, how do we distribute the estate?

Under the per stirpes distribution method, the deceased beneficiary’s share of the estate is divided equally among their living descendants (their children). For example, let’s say a parent leaves an estate to their three children, Ari, Beth, and Charlie, “per stirpes”. If Beth dies before the surviving grantor and had two children, Darrell and Eden, then Beth’s share of the estate would be divided equally between Darrell and Eden, while Ari and Charlie would receive their full shares, as normal.

This distribution method ensures that the deceased beneficiary’s share of the estate is passed down totheir own descendants, rather than being divided equally among the remaining beneficiaries. It can be a useful way to ensure that wealth stays within a family, rather than being passed on to non-family members.

It’s important to note that per stirpes distribution can be different from “per capita” distribution, where each surviving beneficiary receives an equal share of the estate regardless of whether they have their own descendants, or “by representation.” It’s also important to consult with an attorney to ensure that your estate plan accurately reflects your wishes and considers any relevant state laws. “Per capita” and “by representation” will be explained in separate blog articles.

by Travis Clark, Esq.

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