What happens if a beneficiary in of a Will dies before the testator?

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What happens if a beneficiary in of a Will dies before the testator?

My father passed and left his estate to his spouse. She passed 1 month before he did. They lived in a community property state.

Asked on June 9, 2013 under Estate Planning, Arizona

Answers:

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

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

It used to be that when a beneficiary died before the testator, their inheritance was said to have "lapsed" (i.e. their estate would not be entitled to receive the gift). However, all states have created what are called "anti-lapse" statutes that direct how lapsed property should pass.

That having been said, a testator does not have to rely upon their these anti-lapse laws. They can provide in their Will as to what will happen if a beneficiary predeceases them. For example, state law may mandate that any lapsed gift passes to the deceased beneficiary’s heirs but a testator can create a clause that differs. They can direct that any lapsed gift will pass according to the residuary clause in their Will. So, for example, such a clause might state that residuary property will pass to a charity.


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