Who is in line to inherit an estate?

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Who is in line to inherit an estate?

For example, if my aunt has a Will and she has stated who will receive what. If she has named a family member to receive monies but they have died, does that portion go to that family member’s children or not?

Asked on February 21, 2018 under Estate Planning, Mississippi

Answers:

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

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

First of all, when a beneficiary predeceases the "testator" (i.e. the person who made the Will), there are several possibilities as to what can happen regarding distribution of the estate. It depends on how the Will is the worded, who the dead beneficiary was, and even in what state probate is taking place. The gift may "lapse", meaning that it goes back into the estate to be distributed according to the "residuary clause" of the Will (the clause that controls how the remainder of an estate is divided). That having been said, most states have enacted "anti-lapse" laws to prevent this. Also, a contingent beneficiary may be named in the Will to receive the bequest in the event that the primary beneficiary cannot inherit. Further, if the deceased beneficiary was a child of the testator, then their share may in turn go the their children (the testor's grandchildren) or it may be split only among the testator's surviving children. At this point, a local attorney should be consulted to review the Will in order to determine exactly what will happen. 


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