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LEGAL TERMS

SWEARING MATCH

A case that turns on the word of one witness versus another. The outcome of a swearing match usually depends on whom the jury finds most trustworthy.

SUCCESSION

The passing of property or legal rights after death. The word commonly refers to the distribution of property under a state's intestate succession laws, which d... (more...)
The passing of property or legal rights after death. The word commonly refers to the distribution of property under a state's intestate succession laws, which determine who inherits property when someone dies without a valid will. When used in connection with real estate, the word refers to the passing of property by will or inheritance, as opposed to gift, grant, or purchase.

SURROGATE COURT

See probate court.

SPECIAL ADMINISTRATOR

(1) In the law of wills and estates, a person appointed by the court to take charge of only a designated portion of an estate during probate. For example, a spe... (more...)
(1) In the law of wills and estates, a person appointed by the court to take charge of only a designated portion of an estate during probate. For example, a special administrator with particular expertise on art might be appointed to oversee the probate of a wealthy person's art collection, but not the entire estate. (2) A person appointed to be responsible for a deceased person's property for a limited time or during an emergency, such as a challenge to the will or to the qualifications of the named executor. In such cases, the special administrator's duty is to maintain and preserve the estate, not necessarily to take control of the probate process

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.

CHARITABLE TRUST

Any trust designed to make a substantial gift to a charity and also achieve income and estate tax savings for the person who creates the trust (the grantor).

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.'

ANCILLARY PROBATE

A probate proceeding conducted in a different state from the one the deceased person resided in at the time of death. Usually, ancillary probate proceedings are... (more...)
A probate proceeding conducted in a different state from the one the deceased person resided in at the time of death. Usually, ancillary probate proceedings are necessary if the deceased person owned real estate in another state.

TRUST CORPUS

Latin for 'the body' of the trust. This term refers to all the property transferred to a trust. For example, if a trust is established (funded) with $250,000, t... (more...)
Latin for 'the body' of the trust. This term refers to all the property transferred to a trust. For example, if a trust is established (funded) with $250,000, that money is the corpus. Sometimes the trust corpus is known as the 'res,' a Latin word meaning 'thing.'

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. ...