What happens if a beneficiary predeceases the maker if a Will?

My wife survived her brother and her father has everything in his Will going to her brother. If her father passes, does everything go to her or the brother’s wife?

Asked on March 16, 2011 under Estate Planning, New Jersey


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your situation.  One would really have to read the entire Last Will and Testament in order to know how this will play out.  Generally speaking the Will discusses the issue you have raised.  Sometimes the decedent (your father in law) states that if the beneficiary has pre-deceased them that the inheritance will pass to their beneficiaries "per stirpes" meaning "through the roots" which means the parties children.  Sometimes a contingent beneficiary is named (someone else) or sometimes it reverts to the "residuary clause" : "the rest residue and remainder" clause.  Bring the Will to an attorney.  Your wife can always contest but you need to file objections within a certain time period. Good luck. 

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