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[Latin, By roots or stocks; by representation.] A term used to denote a method used in dividing the estate of a person. A person who takes per stirpes, sometimes called by right of representation, does not inherit in an individual capacity but as a member of a group.
In a per stirpes distribution, a group represents a deceased ancestor. The group takes the proportional share to which the deceased ancestor would have been entitled if still living.
For example, a man died intestate; his wife predeceased him. He had four children, three of whom are still living at the time of his death. The deceased child had three children, all still living. These three grandchildren will share equally in one-fourth of their grandfather's estate, the share the deceased parent would have taken if still alive. The three living children will also each receive one-fourth of the estate.
Per stirpes differs from per capita, in which an equal share is given to each of a number of persons who all stand in equal degree of relationship to the deceased.
(purr stir-peas) adj. Latin for "by roots," by representation. The term is commonly used in wills and trusts to describe the distribution when a beneficiary dies before the person whose estate is being divided. Example: "I leave $100,000 to my daughter, Eleanor, and if she shall predecease me, to her children, per stirpes." Thus, if Eleanor dies before her parent, then the $100,000 will be divided among her children equally. A better way to make this clear is to substitute for per stirpes: "...to her children by right of representation, share and share alike," which is better drafting since it is clear to the non-lawyer. If there is no provision for distribution to children of a predeceased child, then the gift will become part of the residue (what is left after specific gifts), and then the grandchildren may not share if there are surviving children of the giver. (See: descent and distribution, will, trust)
per stirpessee PER CAPITA.
PER STIRPES. By stock; by roots.
2. When, for example, a man dies intestate, leaving children and grandchildren, whose parents are deceased, the estate is to be divided not per capita, that is, by each of the children and grandchildren taking a share, but per stirpes, by each of the children taking a share, and the grandchildren, the children of a deceased child, taking a share to be afterwards divided among themselves per capita.