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LEGAL TERMS

CONSERVATOR

Someone appointed by a judge to oversee the affairs of an incapacitated person. A conservator who manages financial affairs is often called a 'conservator of th... (more...)
Someone appointed by a judge to oversee the affairs of an incapacitated person. A conservator who manages financial affairs is often called a 'conservator of the estate.' One who takes care of personal matters, such as healthcare and living arrangements, is known as a 'conservator of the person.' Sometimes, one conservator is appointed to handle all these tasks. Depending on where you live, a conservator may also be called a guardian, committee or curator.

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.

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.

INTESTATE SUCCESSION

The method by which property is distributed when a person dies without a valid will. Each state's law provides that the property be distributed to the closest s... (more...)
The method by which property is distributed when a person dies without a valid will. Each state's law provides that the property be distributed to the closest surviving relatives. In most states, the surviving spouse, children, parents, siblings, nieces and nephews, and next of kin inherit, in that order.

COUNTERCLAIM

A defendant's court papers that seek to reverse the thrust of the lawsuit by claiming that it was the plaintiff -- not the defendant -- who committed legal wron... (more...)
A defendant's court papers that seek to reverse the thrust of the lawsuit by claiming that it was the plaintiff -- not the defendant -- who committed legal wrongs, and that as a result it is the defendant who is entitled to money damages or other relief. Usually filed as part of the defendant's answer -- which also denies plaintiff's claims -- a counterclaim is commonly but not always based on the same events that form the basis of the plaintiff's complaint. For example, a defendant in an auto accident lawsuit might file a counterclaim alleging that it was really the plaintiff who caused the accident. In some states, the counterclaim has been replaced by a similar legal pleading called a cross-complaint. In other states and in federal court, where counterclaims are still used, a defendant must file any counterclaim that stems from the same events covered by the plaintiff's complaint or forever lose the right to do so. In still other states where counterclaims are used, they are not mandatory, meaning a defendant is free to raise a claim that it was really the plaintiff who was at fault either in a counterclaim or later as part of a separate lawsuit.

TRUST DEED

The most common method of financing real estate purchases in California (most other states use mortgages). The trust deed transfers the title to the property to... (more...)
The most common method of financing real estate purchases in California (most other states use mortgages). The trust deed transfers the title to the property to a trustee -- often a title company -- who holds it as security for a loan. When the loan is paid off, the title is transferred to the borrower. The trustee will not become involved in the arrangement unless the borrower defaults on the loan. At that point, the trustee can sell the property and pay the lender from the proceeds.

TRUSTEE POWERS

The provisions in a trust document defining what the trustee may and may not do.

WILL

A document in which you specify what is to be done with your property when you die and name your executor. You can also use your will to name a guardian for you... (more...)
A document in which you specify what is to be done with your property when you die and name your executor. You can also use your will to name a guardian for your young children.

GRANTOR

Someone who creates a trust. Also called a trustor or settlor.

SAMPLE LEGAL CASES

Guardianship of Ann S.

... 1118 OPINION. CORRIGAN, J.—. In 2003 the Legislature enacted Probate Code section 1516.5, making it easier for children in probate guardianships to be adopted by their guardians. (Stats. 2003, ch. ... We granted review. II. DISCUSSION. A. Probate Guardianship. ...

Schwartz v. Labow

... In August 2003, the probate court appointed Lionel B. Sanders, certified public accountant, conservator of Sylvia's and Louis's estates in the related conservatorships. ... DISCUSSION. 1. The probate court had jurisdiction in November 2005 to suspend appellant trustee's powers. ...

Estate of Bennett

... (collectively Smith), appeal from a probate court order granting the motion of petitioners Lu Ella Bennett, Jack H. Bennett, Jr., and Louise Comer to set aside and rescind a settlement agreement and an assignment of their interests in the estate of Jack Harry Bennett (decedent). ...