If 4 children are named to inherit their parents’ estate but 1 child dies, do the remaining 3 divide the deceased sibling’s share between them?

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If 4 children are named to inherit their parents’ estate but 1 child dies, do the remaining 3 divide the deceased sibling’s share between them?

The sibling was married and had 2 children from a first marriage but left no Will. Does her share go automatically to her second husband, her children or is it split with the 3 living siblings?

Asked on October 26, 2016 under Estate Planning, Maine

Answers:

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

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

As a general rule, when a beneficiary is a member of a group and dies before the maker of the Will (i.e. the "testator"), their share goes to the surviving members of the group, that is unless the Will provides otherwise. Accordingly, if it states that the estate is "to be divided among my children", it will be split among the survivors. If, however, the Will left the property specifically to the children by name (i.e. to "Jane, Mary, and John"), then the bequest is not considered a "class gift", which means that the deceased sibling's share of the inheritance would go to their beneficiaries (if there was a Will) or heirs (if there was no Will). To be certain of your rights, you can directly consult with a local probate lawyer.


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