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LEGAL TERMS

GROSS ESTATE

For federal estate tax filing purposes, the total of all property owned at death, without regard to any debts or liens against the property or the costs of prob... (more...)
For federal estate tax filing purposes, the total of all property owned at death, without regard to any debts or liens against the property or the costs of probate. Taxes are due only on the value of the property the person actually owned (the net estate) plus the amount of any taxable gifts made during life. In a few states, the gross estate is used when computing attorney fees for probating estates; the lawyer gets a percentage of the gross estate.

HEIR APPARENT

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

GENERATION-SKIPPING TRUST

A trust designed to save on estate tax. The trust principal is preserved for the trust maker's grandchildren, with his or her children receiving only income fro... (more...)
A trust designed to save on estate tax. The trust principal is preserved for the trust maker's grandchildren, with his or her children receiving only income from the trust. Because the children (the middle generation) never legally own the property, it isn't subject to estate tax at their death. See generation-skipping transfer tax.

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.

INHERIT

To receive property from someone who has died. Traditionally, the word 'inherit' applied only when one received property from a relative who died without a will... (more...)
To receive property from someone who has died. Traditionally, the word 'inherit' applied only when one received property from a relative who died without a will. Currently, however, the word is used whenever someone receives property from the estate of a deceased person.

TRUST DEED

The most common method of financing real estate purchases in California (most other states use mortgages). The trust deed transfers the title to the property to... (more...)
The most common method of financing real estate purchases in California (most other states use mortgages). The trust deed transfers the title to the property to a trustee -- often a title company -- who holds it as security for a loan. When the loan is paid off, the title is transferred to the borrower. The trustee will not become involved in the arrangement unless the borrower defaults on the loan. At that point, the trustee can sell the property and pay the lender from the proceeds.

SUCCESSOR TRUSTEE

The person or institution who takes over the management of trust property when the original trustee has died or become incapacitated.

HEIR AT LAW

A person entitled to inherit property under intestate succession laws.

FAILURE OF ISSUE

A situation in which a person dies without children who could have inherited her property.

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. ...