If aWill states that a house goes to 4 heirs to “share and share alike” and 3 of the 4 are dead, who owns 100% of the house?

UPDATED: Oct 15, 2011

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If aWill states that a house goes to 4 heirs to “share and share alike” and 3 of the 4 are dead, who owns 100% of the house?

Asked on October 15, 2011 under Estate Planning, Indiana


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Who owns the house depends on just how the Will is worded.

Generally, if a Will states that the beneficiaries share their bequest (i.e. gift) "per capita", then in such an event, the survivor will inherit it all. If it states that beneficiaries will share "per stirpes", then the estate will be distributed to each deceased beneficiary's estate (in your case there would be a 4 way split of the house).

The phrase, "to share and share alike" is normally used to describe the division of property among a class of persons on a per capita basis; however, other language in the Will may require the property to be divided per stirpes. 

Therefore, without seeing the Will itself, no definitive answer can be given.

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