What happens if a beneficiary has already died?
A scenario that not everyone will come across is when a beneficiary named in a Will has died before the Testator.
What will happen to that share of the Estate will depend on how the Will itself is worded, and our Wills, Trusts, Tax and Probate solicitors have set out some examples, below.
A dies leaving their whole Estate to B. Their will contains a clause which states that if B predeceases them, their Estate will pass to C. In this scenario, if B survives, they would receive the whole Estate. If B has already died, C receives the whole Estate.
However, what happens if B survives, but dies before receiving the whole Estate? Well, in this case, the Estate would still have passed to B, as they survived A, and therefore the whole of A’s Estate would fall into B’s Estate.
A dies leaving their Estate to B and C, in equal shares, or to the survivor. If B and C are still alive, they each receive a half share. If B has died, but C is alive, C receives the full Estate and vice versa. If both B and C have died before A, expert probate solicitors would need to consider any substitute provisions contained within the Will. If there are none, the Estate could pass under the Rules of Intestacy, instead.
Like the first example, if either B or C survive A, but die before receiving their share of the Estate, their share would pass into their own Estate and therefore under the terms of their Will. The survivor of them – either B or C – would still be entitled to their own share.
A dies leaving their whole Estate to B, with a clause that states that B must survive A for 28 days to receive the Estate. If B survives by 28 days, they receive the full Estate. As above, if B survives for 28 days but then dies, the whole Estate passes into B’s Estate. If B does not survive for 28 days, then we would need to consider any substitute provisions contained in A’s Will, as the Estate would not pass to B.
As can be seen from the above examples, what happens with a person’s Estate if someone named in their Will has already died before them will depend on how the Will is worded.
If the Testator leaves a specific gift, for example, a piece of jewellery, and the beneficiary has already died and there are no substitute provisions made, the gift simply fails and falls into the remainder of their Estate.
If you are dealing with an Estate where a beneficiary has already died you should seek legal advice from an expert Wills and Probate Solicitor. Our team at MG Legal can be contacted online, here, or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have made a Will and one of your beneficiaries has died, contact our expert Will drafters to find out whether you need to update your Will. Contact your local office, here.