If you have had your will or trust prepared by an attorney, you may have noticed the words “issue, per stirpes” in your estate planning document. But what does that mean? The term “issue” refers to everyone down the family tree starting from a particular person. The term “per stirpes” means “by branch.” If you are survived by three children and you have no deceased children, then your assets will be divided into three equal shares and one share is distributed to each child.

But what happens if you have two deceased children and they are survived by their issue (i.e. their children, your grandchildren)? This is where the term “per stirpes” becomes an important part of your estate plan. If your document states that distribution is to my issue, per stirpes, then a deceased child’s share will be divided equally among his or her children.

But what if you don’t have a will or trust and your assets pass by representation under Arizona’s intestate succession law? Below demonstrates the difference between per stirpes distribution and Arizona’s per representation distribution.

What is Per Stirpes? 1
Laura M. Trujillo
Disclaimer: This blog is for information purposes only. Legal advice is provided only through a formal, written attorney/client agreement.