Can an inheritance be passed on if the primary beneficiary dies?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Can an inheritance be passed on if the primary beneficiary dies?

It’s a confusing situation that’s compounded by my lack of knowledge, but here
we go

My grandmother passed away earlier this year and named one of her sons the
executor of the estate. The plans are to sell the house and liquidate the
furniture, then divide the funds up between the 4 children. My mother is in ill
health and is unsure if she will live to see the monies from the selling of the
estate and is concerned that if she passes, the remaining siblings will simply
divide it up between the 3 of them and leave her out due to her being

She’s extremely agitated at this and wants me to receive her portion of the
money even if she should pass away before things are finalized. Is there legal
recourse for this? Would a will or trust protect her share even in death? Does
she need to work directly with her brother the executor and his attorney? I
hope I can provide her a clear answer and begin the process soon to bring her
peace of mind. Thanks

Asked on April 29, 2019 under Estate Planning, Tennessee


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Since your mother outlived your grandmother, even if she dies before the estate is fully settled, her share of the estate will go to her own beneficiary--presumably you and any siblings or half siblings (other children of your mother), if any. 
Legally, your right to her share of your grandmother's estate is protected, since your mother has qualified for and is entitled to her share. That doesn't mean that her siblings might not try to cut her and you out, but they cannot do so legally; if it appears that they are, you can bring a legal action against your grandmother's estate and the executor.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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