Per stirpes is a Latin phrase (meaning *per branch*) used in wills that specifies that each *branch* of the testator's family is to receive an equal share of the estate.

As an example, suppose that the testator is *A*, whose will specifies that his estate is to be divided among his children *per stirpes*. *A* has three children, *B*, *C*, and *D*. *B* is already dead, but has left two children (grandchildren of *A*), named *B1* and *B2*. When *A*'s will is executed, under a *per stirpes* division, *C* and *D* each receive one-third of the estate, and *B1* and *B2* each one sixth, because their "branch" of the family has received one equal share. Under a per capita distribution, each of the surviving descendants *B1*, *B2*, *C*, and *D* would have received one quarter of the estate.

Similarly, if grandchild *B1* had also died before *A* but left two children, *B1a* and *B1b*, a *per stirpes* division would still give one third to each of *C* and *D* and one sixth to *B2*. The one sixth allocated to the *B1* branch would be divided between *B1a* and *B1b*, with each receiving one twelfth of the original estate.