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LEGAL TERMS

SPRINKLING TRUST

A trust that gives the person managing it (the trustee) the discretion to disburse its funds among the beneficiaries in any way he or she sees fit.

FINAL BENEFICIARY

The person or institution designated to receive trust property upon the death of a life beneficiary. For example, Jim creates a trust through which his wife Jan... (more...)
The person or institution designated to receive trust property upon the death of a life beneficiary. For example, Jim creates a trust through which his wife Jane receives income for the duration of her life. Their daughter, the final beneficiary, receives the trust principal after Jane's death.

BENEFICIARY

A person or organization legally entitled to receive benefits through a legal device, such as a will, trust or life insurance policy.

UNIFORM TRANSFER-ON-DEATH SECURITY ACT

A statute that allows people to name a beneficiary to inherit stocks or bonds without probate. The owner of the securities can register them with a broker using... (more...)
A statute that allows people to name a beneficiary to inherit stocks or bonds without probate. The owner of the securities can register them with a broker using a simple form that names a person to receive the property after the owner's death. Every state but Texas has adopted the statute.

ESTATE TAXES

Taxes imposed by the state or federal government on property as it passes from the dead to the living. All property you own, whatever the form of ownership, and... (more...)
Taxes imposed by the state or federal government on property as it passes from the dead to the living. All property you own, whatever the form of ownership, and whether or not it goes through probate after your death, is subject to federal estate tax. Currently, however, federal estate tax is due only if your property is worth at least $2 million when you die. The estate tax is scheduled to be repealed for one year, in 2010, but Congress will probably make the repeal (or a very high exempt amount) permanent. Any property left to a surviving spouse (if he or she is a U.S. citizen) or a tax-exempt charity is exempt from federal estate taxes. Many states now also impose their own estate taxes or inheritance taxes.

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.

SELF-PROVING WILL

A will that is created in a way that allows a probate court to easily accept it as the true will of the person who has died. In most states, a will is self-prov... (more...)
A will that is created in a way that allows a probate court to easily accept it as the true will of the person who has died. In most states, a will is self-proving when two witnesses sign under penalty of perjury that they observed the willmaker sign it and that he told them it was his will. If no one contests the validity of the will, the probate court will accept the will without hearing the testimony of the witnesses or other evidence. To make a self-proving will in other states, the willmaker and one or more witnesses must sign an affidavit (sworn statement) before a notary public certifying that the will is genuine and that all willmaking formalities have been observed.

REMAINDERMAN

Someone who will inherit property in the future. For instance, if someone dies and leaves his home 'to Alma for life, and then to Barry,' Barry is a remainderma... (more...)
Someone who will inherit property in the future. For instance, if someone dies and leaves his home 'to Alma for life, and then to Barry,' Barry is a remainderman because he will inherit the home in the future, after Alma dies.

IRREVOCABLE TRUST

A permanent trust. Once you create it, it cannot be revoked, amended or changed in any way.

SAMPLE LEGAL CASES

Tzolis v. Wolff

... Chancellor Walworth applied to a joint stock corporation — then a fairly new kind of entity — a familiar principle of the law of trusts: that a beneficiary (or "cestui que trust") could bring suit on behalf of a trust when a faithless trustee refused to do so. ...

IN THE MATTER OF DE SANCHEZ

... In 1927, two years before the Great Depression, Elizabeth Laurent de Sanchez, whose family owned a sugar plantation in Cuba, set up seven inter vivos trusts for the benefit of her six children—Emilio (two trusts in his name), Jorge, Julio, Marcelo, Maria and Gabriela. ...

Matter of Mergenhagen

... as appealed from is unanimously reversed on the law without costs, 1487 the petitions are granted in part, the termination of trust dated October 10, 1994 is vacated, respondent David M. Mergenhagen is removed as trustee from the 1991 and 1994 irrevocable trusts, he is ...