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Can someone please translate the paragraph means into plan English? The image is taken from a revocable trust.

Article of Revocable Trust

  • And people wonder why it takes a lawyer and 7 years of post-graduate school to understand these things. Really this could have been written in plain english, Johnny gets X, Suzy gets Y, etc, but somebody was being lazy and wanted to write a will that never has to be modified, up to 5 generations deep. – Ron Beyer Oct 16 '18 at 21:54
  • Actually, this is the "Plain English" version. The legalese version would have said: "The Designated Ancestor's share of the trust estate shall be divided into shares, per capita at each generation." en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Per_stirpes#Per_capita_at_each_generation – ohwilleke Oct 16 '18 at 22:28
  • The quoted definition is actually more accurate, as well as more concise, than my paraphrase. "Issue" is a legal term of art, and many cases have precisely defined who is and is not included in it. It was better to use it. Nor does it take huge study to understand this document. – David Siegel Oct 16 '18 at 23:01
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I am not knowledgeable about wills, trusts, and estates, but I will illustrate with an example my understanding of that paragraph. This largely overlaps with the answer given by @DavidSiegel, but I believe that an example is useful because of the recursive nature of subsequent divisions of property.

Suppose:

  • Dead person A has five children: B1, B2, B3, B4, and B5.
  • B4 and B5 died a few years ago.
  • B4's children are C1, C2, and C3.
  • B5 has no children and no descendants.
  • C3 is dead.
  • C3's children are dead, but his grandchildren are D1 and D2, and both of them alive.

Person A is called the Designated Ancestor. His property is divided into four equal shares (it would be five equal shares if B5 were alive or had any surviving descendants).

The first division consists of giving B1, B2, and B3 their share. That is, each one of them gets 1/4 of A' property. That accounts for 3/4 of A's property.

The remaining 1/4 of A's property cannot be given to B4 because B4 is dead. But it will be distributed among his children, which constitutes the second division, now B4 being called the Designated Ancestor.

The second division consists of dividing B4's share (which we may call "B4's property") into three equal shares because all B4's children are alive (C1 and C2) or have descendants (C3). Thus, C1 gets 1/3 of B4's property, and so does C2. C3's share ("C3's property") will be distributed among C3's descendants, which constitutes the third division with C3 as the Designated Ancestor.

In this third division, C3's share is divided into two (equal) halves. One half is given to D1, the other is given to D2 (if D2 were deceased by then, D1 would get the entirety of C3's share).

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    I agree with the example, and I think it does help make the issue clearer. Thank you. – David Siegel Oct 16 '18 at 22:58
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As best I understand it, this means that when property (probably money, but could be any property) held in the trust is to be distributed (under a particular California law) the distribution follows these rules.

If the deceased person (probably the person for whom the money was in trust) (known as DA) had any living children when s/he died, then the property is divided into 1 share for each living child (at the time of DA's death) plus 1 share for each deceased child who had any living descendants at that time. The living children get one share each. The descendants of each dead child (who had living descendants) divide 1 share, according to the same rule, starting with the dead child as DA.

If the DA had no living children, but had living grandchildren, then each living grandchild gets 1 share, plus there is 1 share for each dead grandchild who had living descendants. The living grandchildren get one share each. The descendants of each dead grandchild (who had living descendants) divide 1 share, according to the same rule, starting with the dead grandchild as DA.

If the DA had no living children or grandchildren, but had living great-grandchildren, then each living great-grandchild gets 1 share, plus there is 1 share for each dead great-grandchild who had living descendants. The living great-grandchildren get one share each. The descendants of each dead great-grandchild (who had living descendants) divide 1 share, according to the same rule, starting with the dead great-grandchild as DA.

And so on down to the first generation at which the DA had living descendants when s/he died, if that is below great-grandchildren.

It doesn't say what happens if the DA had no living descendants at all when s/he died.

I hope that is plain enough. "issue" basically means "descendants". I am not sure if adopted children (or grandchildren etc) or step-children count. I suspect that they do.

  • "I am not sure if adopted children (or grandchildren etc) or step-children count." Normally a definition in the boilerplate would state that adopted children count. Step-children almost never count in a context like this one. – ohwilleke Oct 16 '18 at 22:29

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