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LEGAL TERMS

PROVING A WILL

Convincing a probate court that a document is truly the deceased person's will. Usually this is a simple formality that the executor or administrator easily sat... (more...)
Convincing a probate court that a document is truly the deceased person's will. Usually this is a simple formality that the executor or administrator easily satisfies by showing that the will was signed and dated by the deceased person in front of two or more witnesses. When the will is holographic -- that is, completely handwritten by the deceased and not witnessed, it is still valid in many states if the executor can produce relatives and friends to testify that the handwriting is that of the deceased.

RESIDUARY BENEFICIARY

A person who receives any property by a will or trust that is not specifically left to another designated beneficiary. For example, if Antonio makes a will leav... (more...)
A person who receives any property by a will or trust that is not specifically left to another designated beneficiary. For example, if Antonio makes a will leaving his home to Edwina and the remainder of his property to Elmo, then Elmo is the residuary beneficiary.

DISCHARGE (OF PROBATE ADMINISTRATOR)

A court order releasing the administrator or executor from any further duties connected with the probate of an estate. This typically occurs when the duties hav... (more...)
A court order releasing the administrator or executor from any further duties connected with the probate of an estate. This typically occurs when the duties have been completed but may happen sooner if the executor or administrator wishes to withdraw or is dismissed.

INTESTATE

The condition of dying without a valid will. The probate court appoints an administrator to distribute the deceased person's property according to state law.

ADMINISTRATION (OF AN ESTATE)

The court-supervised distribution of the probate estate of a deceased person. If there is a will that names an executor, that person manages the distribution. I... (more...)
The court-supervised distribution of the probate estate of a deceased person. If there is a will that names an executor, that person manages the distribution. If not, the court appoints someone, who is generally known as the administrator. In some states, the person is called the 'personal representative' in either instance.

PROPERTY CONTROL TRUST

Any trust that imposes limits or controls over the rights of trust beneficiaries. These trusts include (1) special needs trusts designed to assist people who ha... (more...)
Any trust that imposes limits or controls over the rights of trust beneficiaries. These trusts include (1) special needs trusts designed to assist people who have special physical, emotional or other requirements, (2) spendthrift trusts designed to prevent a beneficiary from wasting the trust principal; and (3) sprinkling trusts that allow the trustee to decide how to distribute trust income or principal among the beneficiaries.

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.'

FAILURE OF ISSUE

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

ALTERNATE BENEFICIARY

A person, organization or institution that receives property through a will, trust or insurance policy when the first named beneficiary is unable or refuses to ... (more...)
A person, organization or institution that receives property through a will, trust or insurance policy when the first named beneficiary is unable or refuses to take the property. For example, in his will Jake leaves his collection of sheet music to his daughter, Mia, and names the local symphony as alternate beneficiary. When Jake dies, Mia decides that the symphony can make better use of the sheet music than she can, so she refuses (disclaims) the gift, and the manuscripts pass directly to the symphony. In insurance law, the alternate beneficiary, usually the person who receives the insurance proceeds because the initial or primary beneficiary has died, is called the secondary or contingent beneficiary.

SAMPLE LEGAL CASES

Frost Nat. Bank v. Fernandez

... The principal issue on appeal is whether the district court had jurisdiction to render summary judgment when similar bill of review proceedings and applications 497 for determination of heirship were pending in the probate court. ... 3. Probate Code. ...

In re Estate of Gaines

... The will also named Green and his wife the guardians of Gaines's children. Davis did not submit an application to probate Gaines's will for over three years after Gaines's death. ... In response, Davis submitted an application to probate Gaines's will on October 13, 2006. ...

In re Estate of Walker

... They appeal from an order of the probate court denying them relief in their complaint regarding an amended inventory filed by the independent executor of the deceased's estate. ... Beasley filed an application to probate the deceased's will on August 18, 2003. ...