Per stirpes means by the root. Per capita means by persons. These terms are usually used in a will when a testator is leaving property to several persons, like children. If the testator has three children and says “I give my property to my children per stirpes and not per capita, what he means is that he wants his estate to be divided into three parts (roots) and for each child to receive one part. If a child predeceases the testator, his part (root) will go to his heirs.

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