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LEGAL TERMS

DISINHERIT

To deliberately prevent someone from inheriting something. This is usually done by a provision in a will stating that someone who would ordinarily inherit prope... (more...)
To deliberately prevent someone from inheriting something. This is usually done by a provision in a will stating that someone who would ordinarily inherit property -- a close family member, for example -- should not receive it. In most states, you cannot completely disinherit your spouse; a surviving spouse has the right to claim a portion (usually one-third to one-half) of the deceased spouse's estate. With a few exceptions, however, you can expressly disinherit children.

ENTITY

An organization, institution or being that has its own existence for legal or tax purposes. An entity is often an organization with an existence separate from i... (more...)
An organization, institution or being that has its own existence for legal or tax purposes. An entity is often an organization with an existence separate from its individual members--for example, a corporation, partnership, trust, estate or government agency. The entity is treated like a person; it can function legally, be sued, and make decisions through agents.

AUGMENTED ESTATE

In general terms, an augmented estate consists of property owned by both a deceased person and his or her spouse. The concept of the augmented estate is used on... (more...)
In general terms, an augmented estate consists of property owned by both a deceased person and his or her spouse. The concept of the augmented estate is used only in some states. Its value is calculated only if a surviving spouse declines whatever he or she was left by will and instead claims a share of the deceased spouse's estate. (This is called taking against the will.) The amount of this 'statutory share' or 'elective share' depends on state law.

DEATH TAXES

Taxes levied at death, based on the value of property left behind. Federal death taxes are called estate taxes. Some states levy inheritance taxes on people who... (more...)
Taxes levied at death, based on the value of property left behind. Federal death taxes are called estate taxes. Some states levy inheritance taxes on people who inherit property.

TRUST MERGER

Under a trust, the situation that occurs when the sole trustee and the sole beneficiary are the same person or institution. Then, there's no longer the separati... (more...)
Under a trust, the situation that occurs when the sole trustee and the sole beneficiary are the same person or institution. Then, there's no longer the separation between the trustee's legal ownership of trust property from the beneficiary's interest. The trust 'merges' and ceases to exist.

PROPERTY CONTROL TRUST

Any trust that imposes limits or controls over the rights of trust beneficiaries. These trusts include (1) special needs trusts designed to assist people who ha... (more...)
Any trust that imposes limits or controls over the rights of trust beneficiaries. These trusts include (1) special needs trusts designed to assist people who have special physical, emotional or other requirements, (2) spendthrift trusts designed to prevent a beneficiary from wasting the trust principal; and (3) sprinkling trusts that allow the trustee to decide how to distribute trust income or principal among the beneficiaries.

IN TERROREM

Latin meaning 'in fear.' This phrase is used to describe provisions in contracts or wills meant to scare a person into complying with the terms of the agreement... (more...)
Latin meaning 'in fear.' This phrase is used to describe provisions in contracts or wills meant to scare a person into complying with the terms of the agreement. For example, a will might state that an heir will forfeit her inheritance if she challenges the validity of the will. Of course, if the will is challenged and found to be invalid, then the clause itself is also invalid and the heir takes whatever she would have inherited if there were no will.

TRUSTEE POWERS

The provisions in a trust document defining what the trustee may and may not do.

POUR-OVER WILL

A will that 'pours over' property into a trust when the will maker dies. Property left through the will must go through probate before it goes into the trust.

SAMPLE LEGAL CASES

Brantley v. Hampden Division of the Probate and Family Court Department

Two petitioners filed an amended complaint in the county court seeking relief under GL c. 211, § 3, as well as declaratory and injunctive relief, to halt the respondents' use of the protocols on the ground that they infringed the petitioners' rights of due process under the Federal ...

Davidson v. Register of Probate for Essex County

[2] Davidson failed in his petition to name as a respondent the mother of the child, who was his adversary in the underlying litigation. See SJC Rule 2:22, 422 Mass. 1302 (1996); Jordan v. Register of Probate for Hampden County, 426 Mass. 1020 (1998). ... [3] Further appellate ...

Watson v. Walker

... Lawrence Watson appeals from a judgment of a single justice of this court denying his petition for relief pursuant to GL c. 211, § 3. [2] Watson seeks relief from a decision of the Appeals Court affirming a final judgment of the Probate and Family Court. LW v. SW, 68 Mass. App. ...