When a beneficiary who stands to get a present under a Will dies prior to the testator dies, the gift has no one to go to. This is called lapse. When this takes place, that present passes according either to the regards to the Will or to your state’s intestacy laws and not to the departed recipient’s descendants.
All states have some kind of anti-lapse laws, also understood as anti-lapse statutes that allow gifts to go to the pre-deceased recipient’s family if the recipient is a close family member. The laws differ extensively, so you ought to talk with a competent estate planning attorney for advice about the anti-lapse laws in your state.
Relations. Anti-lapse laws apply based upon the relationship the testator has to the pre-deceased beneficiary. These laws state that a gift offered to a close relative does not lapse if that relative pre-deceased the testator, but they vary in what they count as a close relationship. Let’s look at an example. Let’s say your grandpa left in his Will a particular gift to your dad, however your father dies prior to your grandfather does. Your grandpa never alters that part of his Will, so when he passes away, the present passes to your dad’s children, indicating you. Depending upon your state’s laws, it may also pass to his grandchildren or siblings.
Spouses. Presents to partners do not count under anti-lapse laws. If, for example, your grandpa leaves a particular present to your granny however your grandma dies before he does, that gift lapses and passes according either to the terms of the Will or to your state’s intestacy laws.