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LEGAL TERMS

SUMMARY PROBATE

A relatively simple probate proceeding available for 'small estates,' as that term is defined by state law. Every state's definition is different, and many are ... (more...)
A relatively simple probate proceeding available for 'small estates,' as that term is defined by state law. Every state's definition is different, and many are complicated, but a few examples include estates worth up to $100,000 in California; New York estates where property, excluding real estate and amounts that must be set aside for surviving family members, is worth $20,000 or less; and Texas estates where the value of property doesn't exceed what is needed to pay a family allowance and certain creditors.

ENDOWMENT INSURANCE

Provides that an insured person who lives for the specified endowment period receives the face value of the insurance policy--that is, the amount paid at death.... (more...)
Provides that an insured person who lives for the specified endowment period receives the face value of the insurance policy--that is, the amount paid at death. If the policy-holder dies sooner, the beneficiary named in the policy receives the proceeds.

INHERITANCE TAXES

Taxes some states impose on people or organizations who inherit property from a deceased person's estate. The taxes are based on the value of the inherited prop... (more...)
Taxes some states impose on people or organizations who inherit property from a deceased person's estate. The taxes are based on the value of the inherited property.

CURATOR

See conservator.

DISTRIBUTEE

(1) Anyone who receives something. Usually, the term refers to someone who inherits a deceased person's property. If the deceased person dies without a will (ca... (more...)
(1) Anyone who receives something. Usually, the term refers to someone who inherits a deceased person's property. If the deceased person dies without a will (called intestate), state law determines what each distributee will receive. Also called a beneficiary.

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.

BEQUEATH

A legal term sometimes used in wills that means 'leave' -- for example, 'I bequeath my garden tools to my brother-in-law, Buster Jenkins.'

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.

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.

SAMPLE LEGAL CASES

Barber v. Ritter

... which they allege became general tax dollars as a result of the transfer, would be expended to defray "general governmental expenses unrelated to the respective purposes for which the cash funds were created"; (2) some of the funds involved were "public trusts," and therefore ...

Saunders v. MURATORI

... See Moore v. 1600 Downing Street, Ltd., 668 P.2d 16, 19 (Colo.App.1983) ("`It is fundamental to the law of trusts that cestuis have the right `upon the general principles of equity' ... and `independently of [statutory] provisions ... ...

IN RE VINTON v. Virzi

... App. 2000). ¶18 With regard to Virzi's allegation of misrepresentation of ownership, for hundreds of years it has been true of the English and American law of trusts that "title" is "colorless" because the person in whom the ... Restatement (Second) of Trusts § 2 cmt. d (1959). ...