If you check your will or trust you will probably run across the Latin term “per stirpes.” The Supreme Court in the recent probate and trust case of O’DONOGHUE v. DOOLEY, 2016 OK 110, 383 P.3d 773 defined per stirpes to mean ” ¶17 The Latin term “per stirpes” means “by roots or stocks” and is a method of dividing an estate where the gift is “[p]roportionately divided between beneficiaries according to their deceased ancestor’s share.” Black’s Law Dictionary (10th Ed. 2014). The term comes from the Latin word “stirps” which references a “branch of a family” or “a line of descent.” Black’s Law Dictionary (10th Ed. 2014). The phrase “lineal descendant” is defined to mean “[a] blood relative in the direct line of descent. Children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren are lineal descendants. Black’s Law Dictionary, (10th Ed. 2014). Spouses are neither blood relatives nor lineal descendants of each other.”
In everyday speech, it means that the inheritance will follow the blood lines down from the ancestor and stop at the first alive person or persons who can take. Let’s say that a will leaves a share of an estate to my children per stirpes. You have only one child. Unfortunately your child does not survive you. But he or she leaves a child, your grandchild. The grandchild steps into the shoes his or her ancestor, your child and inherits your child’s share. Le’t say that you have two or more children. If any one or more of your children does not survive you, then his or her children would step into their parent’s place to inherit.
An experienced probate, will, and living trust attorney like Brent D. Coldiron, knows what to do in these situations. His fees are reasonable. The best money ever spent is to get good legal advice before signing your name to something. Contact Brent at (405) 478-5655 or 737-2244. His website is http://coldironlaw.com.