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When a beneficiary is deceased, who will get the inheritance? You may be wondering whether if you leave property to your brother Jim, but he dies before you, would his kids inherit the property in his place? The answer is, only if your will explicitly states as much. To ensure your document is correct, it’s best to say so specifically in various particular ways.

The surest way is to word your will or trust like this: “To my brother Jim, but if he predeceases me, then to his surviving children [insert their full legal names], or to their heirs, __________.” The blank line shows another critical choice which we can discuss in more detail during a consultation.

If you haven’t explicitly worded your documents like that – for example, if your will or trust says “to my brother Jim,” but he has died first, and there’s no mention of his children – then the answer may become unnecessarily complicated. The gift would likely be saved for his immediate family, thanks to “anti-lapse” laws that all states have on the books, but it’s safer not to rely on those laws. Things might get complicated fast, especially if your brother’s family is a “blended” one with numerous stepchildren.

Attorneys Can Help Ensure Your Will or Trust be Established Correctly

Ensure that your will or trust will work the way you want it to with the best solution, a lawyer. We help families with their estate planning needs and would be honored to meet with you.

It’s important to remember that estate planning is not “one and done.” You should at least review your plan every year or two (or sooner if you or a loved one’s health or life circumstances change) to account for any changes in the lives of your beneficiaries or if your goals have changed (sometimes referred to as “major life-changing events”). Some of the events could be the birth of another beneficiary or death of a designated fiduciary (trustee or executor) that was supposed to outlive you, sudden terminal illness, purchase or sale of real property, or moving to another state.

If you have questions or would like to discuss a personal legal matter, don’t hesitate to reach out. Please contact our office at (212) 920-6371.

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