Who is ‘per stirpes’ and why am I leaving them everything in my will??

If you have prepared your will with a lawyer you may have noticed these short two words ‘per stirpes’ (and yes it is stirpes not stripes).  Many clients ask me “who is that?”. 
Per stirpes is Latin and is a legal term that describes how a share of an estate is to be distributed to each branch of the family.  For example, if in your will you leave everything to your kids and you want your grandchildren to receive their parents’ (your child) share if your child predeceases you.  So, Bob and Mary have three children: Susan, Ken and Ryan.  All of the children have two children each therefore Bob and Mary have six grandchildren.  Ken passed away before Bob and Mary.  Bob and Mary are now deceased.  Susan receives 1/3 of the estate, Ryan receives 1/3 of the estate and Ken’s children share his 1/3 of the estate.
Instead of describing all of this in your will we can simply write ‘per stirpes’!