Estate Planning & Anti-Lapse Statutes

Estate planning attorneys may use the term “anti-lapse statutes” when discussing how assets get passed down to beneficiaries. If you were inclined to do so, you could read about them directly in the Illinois Anti-Lapse Statute of the Probate Act (Section 4-11). Be warned, however, because when reading it, you will not see the words “anti-lapse.” But you will come across phrases such as “…take per stirpes the estate so bequeathed.” Despite the language being used, anti-lapse statutes are relatively straightforward. Knowing them will assist you when you draft an estate plan with your attorney. 

What a Lapse Statute Means

Though the specifics vary, each state has anti-lapse statutes. They are a means to plan for a contingency that may surface when distributing assets to beneficiaries. Imagine an unmarried person who lives alone but has a child (who is now an adult) and has grandchildren. This person has a will, and it declares that the contents of his savings account go to his child. What happens if the child passes away first? Who has a claim on that money?

The anti-lapse statute prevents that money from going back into the estate where intestate laws will likely distribute it. Using the previous example, the money in the savings account would then go to the grandchildren. It would not “lapse” or return to the estate. 


It is critical to understand that anti-lapse statutes do not apply to non-relatives. If you were to leave your house to a long-time friend who is not related to you, the anti-lapse statute would not apply. In other words, if your friend were to pass away before you, the house would not descend to the children of your friend.

Although all states have anti-lapse statutes, they are not identical. One of the ways they differ from one another is by which relatives the statutes cover. When you leave someone an asset in your will, that person is a “legatee.” In Illinois, for a legatee to be covered by the anti-lapse statute, they must be a descendant. Anything you leave your children is protected. However, if you were to leave your sister a specific asset, it would not go to her children if she were to pass away before you because she is not your descendant. 

Jayaraman Law

Estate planning is a necessity for any adult who has assets. They are a way of providing a specific course of action in the face of an uncertain future. Experienced attorneys—like the ones you will meet at Jayaraman Law—know how to plan for multiple contingencies. Give us a call and schedule a free consultation. Let’s build an estate plan that protects you and your loved ones.  


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Jayaraman Law

Jayaraman Law focuses on Estate Planning, Business Planning, and Real Estate. Each is executed with a passion for advocacy and serving clients. When your future depends on it, you need an experienced attorney. Our background is rooted in both the private and public sectors. Let our know-how be your greatest asset.