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Per Stirpes


Per stirpes is a legal term in financial planning and estate distribution, referring to a method of dividing assets among heirs. When a beneficiary passes away, the assets are allocated to the deceased beneficiary’s descendants, instead of being equally divided among the other primary beneficiaries. This ensures that the portion intended for the deceased beneficiary continues to stay within their bloodline or family.


The phonetic pronunciation of “Per Stirpes” can be broken down as follows:Per: /pər/Stirpes: /ˈstɜːr.piːz/

Key Takeaways

  1. Representation: Per stirpes, a Latin term meaning “by roots” or “by representation,” is a method of distributing an estate among a deceased person’s descendants. It ensures that each branch of the family receives an equal share, regardless of how many members are in that branch.
  2. Generational Distribution: The per stirpes distribution occurs by generation when an heir predeceases the decedent. The deceased heir’s share is divided equally among their own children, and this process continues to further generations if necessary, maintaining an equal distribution of shares amongst the family.
  3. Commonly used in Wills and Trusts: The per stirpes method is commonly used in wills and trusts to determine how an estate should be distributed among beneficiaries. It ensures fairness and clarity in inheritance distribution, particularly in situations where family dynamics are complex, like when there are multiple marriages, divorces, or blended families.


The term “Per Stirpes” is important in the realm of business and finance, particularly in estate planning and wealth management, as it pertains to the distribution of assets amongst beneficiaries. This Latin legal term translates to “by the roots” and ensures that, in the event of a beneficiary’s death, their share of the deceased’s estate passes on to their own heirs in equal proportions. By using per stirpes planning, individuals can provide for successive generations and avoid unintended consequences of asset distribution, which may arise from a lack of clear inheritance documentation. Ultimately, per stirpes preserves the legacy of the deceased person by ensuring their wealth is fairly distributed in accordance with their wishes, even if a beneficiary predeceases the testator or grantor.


Per stirpes, a Latin term meaning “by roots” or “by stocks,” is a legal concept mainly used in the realm of estate planning to ensure that a deceased individual’s assets are fairly distributed among their beneficiaries. The purpose of per stirpes is to uphold the wishes of the deceased by allowing the distribution to flow through the family tree, while also addressing the issues arising when the primary beneficiaries predecease the grantor. This method of distribution enables the assets to be dispersed to the next generation of descendants, ensuring that the allocated inheritance trickles down to the individuals initially intended to benefit from the estate. One of the primary uses of per stirpes is in drafting wills and trusts where it helps in maintaining a fair distribution of wealth among family members. Per stirpes ensures that, should one of the beneficiaries pass away prior to the inheritance distribution, their share is divided proportionately among their children, rather than being redistributed among the other primary beneficiaries. This approach thus safeguards the interests of the descendants and guarantees that the deceased’s assets are allocated according to their original wishes, even in the event of unforeseen circumstances. By incorporating per stirpes clauses in their estate planning, individuals can provide for a more equitable and clear-cut division of their assets among their loved ones, protecting their financial interests for generations to come.


Per stirpes is a Latin term used in estate planning, wills, and beneficiary designations, referring to the distribution of assets to the descendants of the deceased individual. Here are three real-world examples in the context of business and finance: 1. A grandfather leaves a will that states his estate should be distributed per stirpes to his children. He has two children, Alice and Bob. Alice has three children, while Bob passed away with one surviving child. In this situation, Alice would receive 50% of the estate, and her three children would each get a share of the other 50%, while Bob’s child (the deceased father’s grandchild) would inherit the remaining 50% share that would have gone to his father. 2. A woman has listed her two sons as equal beneficiaries per stirpes of her life insurance policy. The first son has no children, while the second has two. If the second son predeceases the mother, the first son would still receive 50% of the life insurance payout, while the remaining 50% would be split equally between the deceased second son’s children (the policyholder’s grandchildren). 3. A father has set up a trust to provide funds for his five children per stirpes. One of the children passes away before the father, leaving two children of their own. In this case, the surviving four children would each inherit a 20% share of the trust, while the deceased sibling’s two children would split their parent’s 20% share, receiving 10% each.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What does the term Per Stirpes mean in finance and business?
The term Per Stirpes is a Latin term, which means by roots or by branch. It is often used in the context of estate planning or inheritance distribution, particularly in wills and trusts, to indicate how the assets should be distributed among the descendants of the deceased.
When is Per Stirpes typically used in estate planning?
Per Stirpes is used when an individual wants to ensure that their assets are divided equally among their descendants, and if any of their descendants have predeceased them, those assets will be distributed among the deceased descendant’s heirs.
How does Per Stirpes distribution work?
In a Per Stirpes distribution, the assets are divided equally among the first generation of the deceased’s beneficiaries (such as children or grandchildren). If any beneficiary has predeceased the grantor of the estate, then their share of the assets is passed down to their own descendants (e.g., their children or grandchildren).
Can you give an example of how Per Stirpes distribution works?
Sure. Let’s say an individual passes away and leaves behind three children: A, B, and C. The individual’s will specifies that the assets should be divided per stirpes. If all three children are alive when the individual dies, each child would receive an equal share of the assets. However, if child B has predeceased the individual, and B has two children (B1 and B2), the assets would then be distributed equally among child A, child C, and the two children of child B (B1 and B2). In this case, A and C would each receive one-third of the assets, and B1 and B2 would each receive one-sixth of the assets.
How does Per Stirpes differ from Per Capita distribution?
While Per Stirpes focuses on the equal distribution of assets among a deceased individual’s descendants by branch or generation, Per Capita distribution divides the assets equally among the living beneficiaries without regard to their generation or relationship to the deceased. In a Per Capita distribution, if a beneficiary predeceases the grantor, that beneficiary’s share is divided among the remaining living beneficiaries, rather than being passed down to the deceased beneficiary’s heirs.
Is Per Stirpes applicable in all jurisdictions?
Per Stirpes is widely recognized and applicable in many jurisdictions. However, each jurisdiction may have specific rules or guidelines regarding its implementation. It is always advisable to consult with an attorney or estate planning expert to ensure that your estate plan follows the laws and regulations of your jurisdiction.

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