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Death of Beneficiaries

What happens when a beneficiary in a will dies before the donor?

• A Missouri court ruled that a gift to a radio evangelist contained in the will of a donor "lapsed" when the evangelist died prior to the donor. The will contained an article specifying that the donor's entire estate, after providing for the donor's father for life, was to be distributed to a designated radio evangelist. The will provided that "I request that said [evangelist] shall use the money so received by him in the promotion and furtherance of his radio ministry and the spreading of the Gospel as he may see fit." The donor's father, and the radio evangelist, both died before the donor. At the donor's death, his estate was claimed by the evangelist's estate, what remained of the radio ministry, and the donor's heirs. The evangelist's radio ministry claimed that the donor intended to leave his estate to the evangelist in his "representative capacity to use for religious purposes ...

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  • September 2, 1991

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