Probate is a long and complex process, meaning that the beneficiaries may not receive their inheritance for many months after the death. If you are administering an estate and one of the beneficiaries dies, you might be confused as to what happens to their inheritance. For the purposes of this article, ‘the deceased’ refers to the person whose estate is being administered.
If one of the beneficiaries dies before the deceased, their inheritance will fail. This means that the legacy they were due to inherit will be kept within the deceased’s estate and distributed to the surviving beneficiaries.
In some cases, there will be a clause in the Will stating that if a certain beneficiary dies before the deceased, their inheritance will pass onto someone else. If there is no such clause, the inheritance will be divided up and redistributed to the residuary beneficiaries at the end of the probate process.
Moreover, if the beneficiary who dies is a child of the deceased and had children of their own who survived them, their inheritance will pass onto their own children.
In the unlucky scenario that a beneficiary dies just a few days or weeks after the deceased, their gift will likely fall back into the estate in the same way that it would if they had died before the deceased. There is a survivorship clause included in most Wills that states that beneficiaries must survive the deceased by at least 28 days for their inheritance to form a part of their estate.
If there is no Will and the estate is being dealt with according to the Rules of Intestacy, the same survivorship clause applies.
If the beneficiary survives the 28-day period outlined in the survivorship clause but dies before receiving their inheritance, their legacy will pass into their own estate to be distributed to their own beneficiaries.