In estate planning circles the term “anti-lapse” refers to a specific inheritance situation that, though not entirely common, all states have addressed with specific laws. All states have adopted anti-lapse statutes that apply when someone leaves a last will and testament and names a specific beneficiary. If that beneficiary dies before the person who makes the will dies, the anti-lapse statute determines who inherits that property.
For example, let’s say you make a will and leave your classic car to your brother. Your brother then dies and a few years later you follow. You never get around to changing your will after your brother dies, and when it comes time to distribute your property your will still says that he should inherit your car.
Under the terms of an anti-lapse law, the car would probably go to your brother’s heirs. This means it would pass to his spouse, children, or anyone else who survived him and who stood to inherit the property under the Arkansas intestacy statute.
While relying on your state’s anti-lapse law is fine, you can also include an anti-lapse provision in your last will and testament. For example, you can say that should any of your gifts lapse they will go to a specific inheritor, such as a charity, another family member, or anyone else you choose.
If you don’t include an anti-lapse provision in your will, the state law will apply to any lapsed gift. Because these laws differ between states, it’s important to ask your attorney how Arkansas law deals with lapsed transfers.