Per stirpes??

Say assets in an irrevocable trust will be distributed to John Doe “per stirpes” at a certain date. And say John Doe is married and has one adult child. Now say John Doe dies before the distribution date.

Who inherits? Does the adult child get everything? Does Mrs. Doe get nothing?

Maybe I should point out that the original trustor died when John Doe was a teenager, before the child was born and before John married Mrs. Doe.


Per stirpes generally excludes the spouse. State rules may override that.


As someone already said, per stirpes never goes to a spouse. It is a method of distributing to the descendants of a deceased person.

Terms of the trust, state statutes and case law control, but I highly doubt if a spouse fits within a per stirpes definition.