When a beneficiary dies before the decedent, does the gift lapse?

During a trust administration, many potential complications can arise. One such complication exists when a beneficiary predeceases a decedent. When this happens, the provisions contained within the decedent’s will relating to the bequest to the deceased beneficiary are said to have lapsed. Absent other provisions within the will, the assets would pass according to the laws of intestacy. However, in California, the anti-lapse statute may apply.

California’s Anti-Lapse Statute Explained

Following is an overview of how California’s anti-lapse rules apply:

  • The anti-lapse statute means that the bequest to the beneficiary, instead of lapsing, passes to the heirs of the beneficiary.
  • The anti-lapse statute only applies if the heirs of the beneficiary are blood relatives or the spouse of the person who made the will.
  • Further, if the deceased beneficiary had a will that left all of the assets to someone who was not a family member, the anti-lapse statute will not apply.

It is important to note that the terms of a will can override the anti-lapse statute. These rules are not always straightforward or easy to understand. Fortunately, you do not have to navigate the estate administration process alone. You can seek guidance from an experienced professional to ensure that you are carrying out your obligations properly.

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