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LEGAL TERMS

STATUTORY SHARE

The portion of a deceased person's estate that a spouse is entitled to claim under state law. The statutory share is usually one-third or one-half of the deceas... (more...)
The portion of a deceased person's estate that a spouse is entitled to claim under state law. The statutory share is usually one-third or one-half of the deceased spouse's property, but in some states the exact amount of the spouse's share depends on whether or not the couple has young children and, in a few states, on how long the couple was married. In most states, if the deceased spouse left a will, the surviving spouse must choose either what the will provides or the statutory share. Sometimes the statutory share is known by its more arcane legal name, dower and curtesy, or as a forced or elective share.

PRETERMITTED HEIR

A child or spouse who is not mentioned in a will and whom the court believes was accidentally overlooked by the person who made the will. For example, a child b... (more...)
A child or spouse who is not mentioned in a will and whom the court believes was accidentally overlooked by the person who made the will. For example, a child born or adopted after the will is made may be deemed a pretermitted heir. If the court determines that an heir was accidentally omitted, that heir is entitled to receive the same share of the estate as she would have if the deceased had died without a will. A pretermitted heir is sometimes called an 'omitted heir.'

HEIR APPARENT

One who expects to be receive property from the estate of a family member, as long as she outlives that person.

INCOMPETENCE

The inability, as determined by a court, to handle one's own personal or financial affairs. A court may declare that a person is incompetent after a hearing at ... (more...)
The inability, as determined by a court, to handle one's own personal or financial affairs. A court may declare that a person is incompetent after a hearing at which the person is present and/or represented by an attorney. A finding of incompetence may lead to the appointment of a conservator to manage the person's affairs. Also known as 'incompetency.'

TAKING AGAINST THE WILL

A procedure under state law that gives a surviving spouse the right to demand a certain share (usually one-third to one-half) of the deceased spouse's property.... (more...)
A procedure under state law that gives a surviving spouse the right to demand a certain share (usually one-third to one-half) of the deceased spouse's property. The surviving spouse can take that share instead of accepting whatever he or she inherited through the deceased spouse's will. If the surviving spouse decides to take the statutory share, it's called 'taking against the will.' Dower and curtesy is another name for the same legal process.

DEVISEE

A person or entity who inherits real estate under the terms of a will.

INVESTOR

A person who makes investments. An investor may act either for herself or on behalf of others. A stock broker or mutual fund manager, for instance, makes invest... (more...)
A person who makes investments. An investor may act either for herself or on behalf of others. A stock broker or mutual fund manager, for instance, makes investments for others who have entrusted her with their money.

ACCUMULATION TRUST

A trust in which the income is retained and not paid out to beneficiaries until certain conditions are met. For example, if Uncle Pierre creates a trust for Nic... (more...)
A trust in which the income is retained and not paid out to beneficiaries until certain conditions are met. For example, if Uncle Pierre creates a trust for Nick's benefit but stipulates that Nick will not get a penny until he gets a Ph.D. in French; Nick is the beneficiary of an accumulation trust.

WILL

A document in which you specify what is to be done with your property when you die and name your executor. You can also use your will to name a guardian for you... (more...)
A document in which you specify what is to be done with your property when you die and name your executor. You can also use your will to name a guardian for your young children.

SAMPLE LEGAL CASES

Johnson v. Johnson

... George T. Bogert, The Law of Trusts and Trustees § 181 at 244-46 (Rev.2d ed.1979) (internal footnotes omitted). ... Once the shares were distributed into Trusts A and B, the Trust set forth how the Trustee was to hold, manage, and distribute the Trust. ...

Elder v. Smith

... Vol.), § 8-104 of the Estates and Trusts Article ("ET"). ... Again, the Estates and Trusts Article governs such claims, and there is nothing in that Article permitting a creditor with a pre-death claim to enhance the priority of its claim post-death. ...

Spry v. Gooner

... appellants lacked standing. The basis of the order was that appellants were not "interested persons" within the meaning of Maryland Code (2001 Repl.Vol., 2008 Supp.), § 1-101(i) of the Estates & Trusts Article ("ET"). Ralph Gooner ...