Inheritances, Per Capita, and Per Stirpes

One of the more important issues you’ll have to face as you create an estate plan is what you want to do about the inheritances you leave to others. In deciding on inheritances, you might come across some obscure terminology. For example, the terms “per capita” and “per stirpes” may not sound familiar to you, but you need to understand them if you want to understand inheritances. Testate and Intestate Inheritances When you consider inheritances, you have to look at the difference between testate and intestate distributions. A person who makes a will  or trust can choose the inheritances he or she wants to leave behind. This person is called a testator. On the other hand, someone who dies without leaving behind a will or trust dies intestate. In this situation, the laws of the state of California determine who inherits the property left behind by that person. In both testate and intestate inheritance situations, the property can be distributed per stirpes or per capita. How


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