Monday, March 31, 2014

What does "per capita" mean in estate planning?

A quick follow-up to the post on the term "per stirpes" here, since the Series 65 exam and Series 66 exam could easily bring up the terms. If a will or revocable trust states that the beneficiaries inherit their shares "per stirpes," if a beneficiary has died by the time the deceased passes on, his or her share will go to his or her descendants. That way, if there are three beneficiaries, the estate will be divided into thirds, period. On the other hand, if the beneficiaries inherit their share of the estate "per capita," a "head count" is taken of all the living beneficiaries at the time of death. If there are three beneficiaries named in the will or trust but one has already died, then the assets are divided among just the remaining two.

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