# Per Stirpes vs Per Capita

## What is Per Stirpes?

Per stirpes is also Latin for “by stock.” When an estate is distributed per stirpes, each beneficiary receives a share of the estate based on their relationship to the deceased. This means that if there are two beneficiaries, the first beneficiary gets 50% of the estate and the second beneficiary gets 50% of the estate. If there are three beneficiaries, the first beneficiary gets 33.33%, the second beneficiary gets 33.33%, and the third beneficiary gets 33.33%.

The main benefit of per stirpes distribution is that it ensures that each beneficiary receives a fair share of the estate. No one person can receive more than they would if it were distributed per capita, but they may end up with less if their relationship to the deceased.

## What is Per Capita?

Per capita is Latin for “by head.” When an estate is distributed per capita, each beneficiary receives an equal share of the estate, regardless of their relationship to the deceased. This means that if there are two beneficiaries, they each get 50% of the estate. If there are three beneficiaries, they each get 33.33% of the estate, and so on.

The main benefit of per capita distribution is that it’s simple and easy to understand. Every beneficiary gets an equal share, no matter who they are or what their relationship is to the deceased.

## What is the difference between per capita vs per stirpes?

The key difference between per capita and per stirpes is the way in which the estate is divided. When an estate is distributed per capita, each beneficiary receives an equal share, regardless of their relationship to the deceased. When an estate is distributed per stirpes, each beneficiary receives a share of the estate based on their relationship to the deceased. This means that if there are two beneficiaries, they each get 50% of the estate. If there are three beneficiaries, they each get 33.33% of the estate, and so on.

## Per Stirpes vs Per Capita FAQ

### What does per stirpes mean for beneficiaries?

Per stirpes is a Latin phrase that translates literally as 'by roots' or 'by branch.' It is used to refer to a person or thing. If a beneficiary dies before the inheritance vests, a per stirpes distribution occurs, which implies that their portion of the inheritance is passed to their lineal descendants. This is common in estate planning.

### Is per capita or per stirpes the default?

The vast majority will use either a 'per stirpes' or a 'per capita' classification as their default. Being aware of the distinction between these two designations is critical, as is ensuring that you understand what the default setting on the form you are signing is so that you may override it if need be.

## How many generations does per stirpes cover?

After the predeceased heirs have passed away, the remaining two-thirds of their shares are distributed evenly among the surviving heirs (the grandchildren). Each of the five grandkids receives two-fifteenths of the total inheritance (one-fifth of two-thirds).

### Which states use per stirpes?

Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Utah, and West Virginia are also among the states that use per stirpes.