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LEGAL TERMS

LETTERS TESTAMENTARY

The document given to an executor by the probate court, authorizing the executor to settle the estate according to either a will or the state's intestate succes... (more...)
The document given to an executor by the probate court, authorizing the executor to settle the estate according to either a will or the state's intestate succession laws.

KINDRED

Under some state's probate codes, all relatives of a deceased person.

TESTAMENTARY TRUST

A trust created by a will, effective only upon the death of the willmaker.

PER STIRPES

Under a will, a method of determining who inherits property when a joint beneficiary has died before the willmaker, leaving living children of his or her own. F... (more...)
Under a will, a method of determining who inherits property when a joint beneficiary has died before the willmaker, leaving living children of his or her own. For example, Fred leaves his house jointly to his son Alan and his daughter Julie. But Alan dies before Fred, leaving two young children. If Fred's will states that heirs of a deceased beneficiary are to receive the property 'per stirpes,' Julie will receive one-half of the property, and Alan's two children will share his half in equal shares (through Alan by right of representation). If, on the other hand, Fred's will states that the property is to be divided per capita, Julie and the two grandchildren will each take a third.

ADMINISTRATRIX

An outdated term for a female administrator -- the person appointed by a court to handle probate on behalf of someone who died without a will. Now, whether male... (more...)
An outdated term for a female administrator -- the person appointed by a court to handle probate on behalf of someone who died without a will. Now, whether male or female, this person is called the administrator.

OFFICER

A person elected by a profit or nonprofit corporation's board of directors, or by the manager of a limited liability company, to manage the day-to-day operation... (more...)
A person elected by a profit or nonprofit corporation's board of directors, or by the manager of a limited liability company, to manage the day-to-day operations of the organization. Officers generally hold titles such as President or Treasurer. Many states and most corporate bylaws or LLC operating agreements require a corporation or LLC to have a president, secretary and treasurer. Election of a vice president may be required by state law.

PETITION

A formal written request made to a court, asking for an order or ruling on a particular matter. For example, if you want to be appointed conservator for an elde... (more...)
A formal written request made to a court, asking for an order or ruling on a particular matter. For example, if you want to be appointed conservator for an elderly relative, you must file a petition with a court. See also complaint.

PROBATE COURT

A specialized court or division of a state trial court that considers only cases concerning the distribution of deceased persons' estate. Called 'surrogate cour... (more...)
A specialized court or division of a state trial court that considers only cases concerning the distribution of deceased persons' estate. Called 'surrogate court' in New York and several other states, this court normally examines the authenticity of a will -- or if a person dies intestate, figures out who receives her property under state law. It then oversees a procedure to pay the deceased person's debts and to distribute her assets to the proper inheritors. See probate.

PROBATE

The court process following a person's death that includes proving the authenticity of the deceased person's will appointing someone to handle the deceased pers... (more...)
The court process following a person's death that includes proving the authenticity of the deceased person's will appointing someone to handle the deceased person's affairs identifying and inventorying the deceased person's property paying debts and taxes identifying heirs, and distributing the deceased person's property according to the will or, if there is no will, according to state law. Formal court-supervised probate is a costly, time-consuming process -- a windfall for lawyers -- which is best avoided if possible.

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. ...