I apologize; the site was having technical issues and apparently my reply did not "stick".
The reason the attorney cannot give a definitive answer on that type of clause is because it is ambiguous; it is not traditional testatment language, and can be construed in 2 ways:
1. the property first goes to the first named heir, then upon their death, to the second named heir, etc.
2. the property is divided among all named heirs equally.
The court, when the language is ambiguous, will look to the testator's intent, based on other evidence (ie if any heirs were estranged, the rest of the language of the will, etc). If the 3 heirs are children, the court may determine that the testator intended that all children divide the inheritance equally. If one of the heirs has passed, normally the will addresses that also. Typically the will requires the heir to survive the testator a certain amount of time (ie 120 hours); if so, then the property passes to that heir, and then becomes a part of the heir's estate, and goes according to the heir's estate plan.
In situations where the language is unclear, the probate attorney will typically file a petition with the court, asking for direction in how to distribute the property. This helps avoid personal liability on the part of the executor, should one of the heirs sue, based on the ambiguous language. The court can then decide whether a provision is ambiguous and should be stricken from the document, or whether it is not ambiguous and how it should be applied.
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Information provided is for educational purposes only. Consultation with a personal attorney is always recommended so your particular facts may be considered. Thank you and take care.