... to divide the residue of my estate equally among those of John, Mary, and Joseph, who are alive at my death, except if any of John, Mary, and Joseph has died...

Or should it be 'if any of John, Mary, or Joseph has died'?

  • If you use 'or' it might be taken that if any one of them has died [within 24 hours]. They might all have died. The clause is there for the sad case where one or more beneficiaries have also died as the result of the same accident, such as a car crash. "John, Mary, and Joseph" is a group of people, as before. Commented Jul 25, 2020 at 17:44
  • That whole bit is superfluous because it a) immediately repeats and b) immediately contradicts the bit prior. So just drop it. "Divide equally between John, Mary, and Joseph if all three are still alive."
    – RegDwigнt
    Commented Jul 25, 2020 at 17:50
  • 1
    @RegDwigнt that is what I thought at first, but it is a typical clause to cover the case where a beneficiary was alive at the time of death, but died soon after (...within 24 hours). For example if the beneficiary died in the same car crash and it cannot easily be determined who died first, this covers the situation. Commented Jul 25, 2020 at 17:56
  • 3
    So far as the ordinary rules of the language and logic are concerned, it should be and, because what one is saying is 'any [member of the set consisting] of John, Mary, and Joseph'. If one wants to use or, then 'any of' becomes unnecessary. However, this seems to be a question about the drafting of a legal document, and such questions are outside the scope of this site, because in that area various legal rules may come into play that go beyond the ordinary rules of the language and logic. One should follow the advice of one's lawyer, rather what somebody might say on a site like this.
    – jsw29
    Commented Jul 25, 2020 at 18:51
  • 2
    This is why you hire a lawyer to write a will. It doesn’t matter much what the rules of English say this sentence means. It matters more how other wills in the past have been worded, and what the courts determined that wording to mean if the will was challenged.
    – The Photon
    Commented Jul 25, 2020 at 22:30

1 Answer 1


Actually, the intent of the paragraph is to divide the residue among those of the named group who survive my death, except for a situation where one or more of the group has predeceased leaving a child or children alive at my death - in that circumstance the child or children would take the parent's share.

Initially though my question was whether to use 'and' or 'or' after the statement 'if any of ____, _____, and / or _____.

I agree with JSW 29 because they are a set.

  • Thanks, by the way, for your comments.
    – Anthony
    Commented Jul 25, 2020 at 21:41
  • This 'answer' should be registered as a comment, not an answer.
    – Pound Hash
    Commented Aug 5, 2020 at 5:11

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