Legal Blog

Legalese Explained: Per Stirpes 

I grabbed lunch with a friend recently and was pleasantly surprised to find the sandwich shop had birch beer in their soda fountain. For those of you without familial roots in Pennsylvania Dutch country, birch beer is a carbonated soft drink made with herbal extracts and birch bark. It is kind of like root beer (or sarsaparilla, which in and of itself is a fun word to say). A birch beer float is made with vanilla ice cream, but a Black Cow is made with birch beer and chocolate ice cream; both are great to enjoy during the hot summer months. Root beer is made with sassafras bark. No roots involved.

What does have roots? Our phrase this week: per stirpes, which I think is another fun word to say. It trips up a lot of people – you hear a lot of “per stirrups” when people read it.

Per stirpes 

       adj. Latin for “by roots,” by representation.  

Per stirpes is commonly used in wills or trusts. It is used to describe what happens to a share if the person who is supposed to inherit it is no longer alive. Imagine for a moment that the old woman who lived in a shoe writes a will and leaves the shoe to her many children, per stirpes. Fine and dandy if all of those children are still alive – the kids get the shoe. But, if one of the children has died but had kids of his own, then his children get his share evenly divided amongst them.  If you draw this out, it looks a bit like the roots of a tree.

Today’s phrase was suggested by Joe Mathis, an Estates & Trusts attorney in Offit Kurman’s Maple Lawn office.

If you have a legal phrase or word you would want to see featured shoot me an email at klongaker@offitkurman.com

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ABOUT KELCIE LONGAKER

klongaker@offitkurman.com |  301.575.0325

Ms. Longaker’s primary areas of concentration include general corporate advising, administrative hearings, and state and federal appellate litigation. She advises start-ups and small businesses during all stages of the business’s life-cycle. She regularly drafts organizational documents, reviews commercial leases, negotiates franchising agreements, and assists with the sale of corporate entities. Ms. Longaker represents many businesses that require liquor licenses, including restaurants, package goods stores, agricultural producers, and manufacturers. She represents clients before county agencies in their applications for new licenses, transfers of existing licenses, or defense of challenged licenses. She also handles land use and zoning matters, real property transactions, and homeowners’ association matters.

 

 

 

 

 

ABOUT OFFIT KURMAN

Offit Kurman is one of the fastest-growing full-service law firms in the United States. With over 200 attorneys in 14 offices that stretch from New York to North Carolina, we represent privately-held companies and families of wealth throughout their business life cycles. Our mission is to provide our clients with “The Better Way” to grow their organizations, protect their businesses’ and families’ wealth, and resolve their most challenging legal conflicts. In addition to our quality of attorneys and breadth of legal services, Offit Kurman is distinguished by our unique operational structure, which encourages collaboration rather than internal competition. The same approach that makes our firm attractive to legal practitioners gives clients unlimited access to experienced counsel in every area of the law. Trust, Knowledge, Confidence—in a partner, that’s perfect.

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