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Who Gets an Inheritance if the Beneficiary is No Longer Alive?

In the event that your beneficiary is no longer alive, what happens to your inheritance? You may be wondering what happens if you leave property to your brother Jim, but he dies before you do. Would his children inherit the property in his place? No, unless you explicitly mention it in your will. When you are writing a document, you should say so specifically and in particular ways to ensure its accuracy.

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, but it’s too complicated to explain here. Call us to assist you.

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 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 work 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 update your plan every five years or so (or sooner if you or a loved one’s health changes) to account for any changes in the lives of your beneficiaries or if your goals have changed. 

Please contact or call us at 434-589-2958. We are happy to help.