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Understanding Per Capita and Per Stirpes Distribution in Georgia

Posted by Joel Beck | Jul 19, 2023 | 0 Comments

In estate planning, there are two common methods of distributing assets: per capita and per stirpes. Both are Latin terms, with per capita meaning "by the head," and per stirpes meaning "by the branch." These methods guide how your wealth is passed down to your heirs after your passing.

Per capita distribution implies that all living beneficiaries will receive an equal share of the estate. If one beneficiary predeceases you, their share will be evenly divided among the remaining living beneficiaries. On the other hand, per stirpes distribution ensures that a deceased beneficiary's share will pass to their direct descendants, such as children or grandchildren.

Impact of Per Capita and Per Stirpes Distribution on Inheritance

The choice between per capita and per stirpes distribution can significantly impact how your inheritance is divided. Suppose you have three children and choose per capita distribution. If one child predeceases you, their share will be split between the surviving siblings. However, with per stirpes distribution, the deceased child's share would pass to their children, your grandchildren.

Imagine the scenario where your child has passed away, leaving behind two children. In the case of per stirpes distribution, the deceased child's share is divided between their two children, your grandchildren. In per capita distribution, the deceased child's share would be divided between their surviving siblings, bypassing your grandchildren.

Using Per Capita and Per Stirpes in Georgia Estate Planning

In Georgia, wills and trusts do not default to either per capita or per stirpes distribution, but rather will state how your assets are to be distributed.  Well-written Wills may also include definitions for terms such as per capita or per stirpes to ensure that there is no confusion as to your wishes, and that the language is not misinterpreted to mean something else, including definitions that another state might use. When you do your own planning, the decision on how your assets are divided is left up to you, the creator of the estate plan. When you do not do your own estate planning documents, Georgia courts will distribute your estate to your closest living relatives, as determined via state law, and that result may not align with your wishes.

By explicitly stating your preference in your will or trust, you have the power to control how your estate is divided. It's essential to consider the implications of each distribution method and make the choice that best aligns with your wishes.

Estate Planning With Peach State Wills & Trusts

At Peach State Wills & Trusts, we understand the intricacies of estate planning in Georgia. We can guide you through the process of choosing the right distribution method for your estate. Remember, the choice between per capita and per stirpes could dramatically influence the legacy you leave for your loved ones.

Contact Peach State Wills & Trusts at 678-344-5342 to learn how to plan for per capita and per stirpes distribution in Georgia today. If you have any questions about estate planning in Georgia, you can download our free guide here, no strings attached. Our team is dedicated to ensuring your assets are distributed according to your wishes. 

About the Author

Joel Beck

Joel Beck founded The Beck Law Firm, LLC in 2007. His firm focused on business law and estate planning needs of clients, two areas that he was drawn to based upon personal and business experiences in his life, including a ten-year career at NASD (now known as FINRA).


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