Per Stirpes Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Per Stirpes, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Per Stirpes?

It is a latin word meaning” by roots” or “by right of representation”. If mentioned, it indicates representing somone who is not present or cannot be present.Commonly it is used by the person who make his Will and he declare the condition that if the beneficiary dies much ahead of him, the estate of his will be equally distributed to the deceased beneficiaries’ children, “per stirpes” – who represent the deceased beneficiary.

History and Meaning of Per Stirpes

Per Stirpes is a Latin term used in the legal world to classify the distribution of an estate. It is often used in Wills to explain how a particular beneficiary's share of the estate should be passed down after their death. Per Stirpes can be translated as "by branch" or "by the roots," and it means that the estate should be divided equally among the branches of the family that are entitled to receive it.

The essence of this legal term is that it allows the descendants of a deceased beneficiary to inherit their share of the estate, instead of the estate passing to the remaining beneficiaries in their own right. This means that even if the beneficiary dies before the testator, their children or grandchildren (i.e. their heirs "by representation") can still inherit their share of the estate.

Examples of Per Stirpes

  1. John leaves his estate to his three children, Alan, Brenda, and Charlie, "per stirpes." However, if Alan dies before John, Alan's share would go to his heirs, and not Brenda and Charlie.
  2. Sarah leaves her estate to her two grandchildren, Jenny and Kurt, "per stirpes." If Kurt passes away before her, his children (Sarah's great-grandchildren) would inherit his share of the estate.
  3. In a trust, the grantor specifies that the beneficiaries would receive their shares "per stirpes." If one of the beneficiaries has already passed away, their share would pass down to their own children or grandchildren.

Legal Terms Similar to Per Stirpes

  1. Per Capita: This term also deals with the distribution of an estate and means "by head." Under this method, the estate is divided into equal shares among living beneficiaries, rather than it being passed down to descendants.
  2. Right of Representation: It is a common principle in estate law that grants the descendants of a deceased person the right to inherit their share of the estate. It is also known as "per stirpes" or "by representation."
  3. Testate: Refers to an individual who dies with a valid Will. In contrast, if someone dies without a Will, they are described as intestate.