What happens if a beneficiary of a Will dies before the maker of the Will?

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What happens if a beneficiary of a Will dies before the maker of the Will?

My grandmother passed away. She had 3 living daughters when she wrote her Will. At time of death, she had 1 living daughter. 1 of the daughters who passed away had 3 children; the other who passed had no children. If the Will stipulated that the estate would be shared equally among the daughters, how should the assets be divided?

Asked on September 29, 2010 under Estate Planning, Delaware

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

It depends on the wording of your grandmother's Will.  If it stated that her daughters had to outlive her, then her estate would go 100% to the surviving daughter (since the other 2 pre-deceased her).  However, absent such wording, her estate would be split among the surviving daughter and the estates of the 2 deceased daughters, 1/3 each. 

Exactly who would inherit the deceased daughters' estates depends on whether or not the deceased daughters had Wills or died "intestate" (without Wills). However, for arguments sake, if the daughter who died with children left her estate to them in equal shares then her 1/3 share would in turn be divided into 1/3 shares for each of her 3 children. As for the daughter who died without children, her husband, if any, would presumably inherit. If she left no husband then her nearest living relatives would most likely inherit.  Again it depends on whether she had a Will or not, and if she did have a Will, the wording in it.


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