Who is in line to inherit an estate?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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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


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

Answered 4 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. 

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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