What if the person named as a beneficiary has dies before the maker of a Will?

Asked on May 23, 2016 under Estate Planning, Pennsylvania


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

When a beneficiary predeceases a "testator" (i.e. the person who made the Will". Several things can happen. It all depends on the wording of the Will, in what state the Will is being probated, and just who the dead benficiary was (e.g. a child). So, for eample, the gift may lapse and go back into the estate to be distributed according to the residuary clause (although most states have enacted "anti-lapse" statutes). Or, a contingent beneficiary may be named who will then recive the gift. Also, if the beneficiary who died had children, then their share may go the their children (i.e. the testor's grandchildren), or it may just be split among the survivng children. Without seeing the Will, it's hard to say for certain. At this point, you should consult directly with a local probate attorney in your area; they can best advise you further.

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