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LEGAL TERMS

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.

ESTATE PLANNING

The art of continuing to prosper when you're alive, and passing your property to your loved ones with a minimum of fuss and expense after you die. Planning your... (more...)
The art of continuing to prosper when you're alive, and passing your property to your loved ones with a minimum of fuss and expense after you die. Planning your estate may involve making a will, living trust, healthcare directives, durable power of attorney for finances or other documents.

HOLOGRAPHIC WILL

A will that is completely handwritten, dated and signed by the person making it. Holographic wills are generally not witnessed. Although it's legal in many stat... (more...)
A will that is completely handwritten, dated and signed by the person making it. Holographic wills are generally not witnessed. Although it's legal in many states, making a holographic will is never advised except as a last resort.

ADMINISTRATOR

A person appointed by a probate court to handle the distribution of property of someone who has died without a will, or with a will that fails to name someone t... (more...)
A person appointed by a probate court to handle the distribution of property of someone who has died without a will, or with a will that fails to name someone to carry out this task. administrator ad litem A person appointed by a probate court to represent an estate during a lawsuit. (Ad litem is Latin for 'during the litigation.') An administrator ad litem is appointed only if there is no existing executor or administrator of the estate, or if the executor or administrator has conflicting interests. For example, Jerry's will leaves most of his property to his brother, Jeff, and also names Jeff as executor of the will. But Jerry's sister, Janine, feels that Jerry made the will under improper pressure from Jeff, and brings a lawsuit to challenge it. The court appoints an administrator ad litem to represent Jerry's estate while the lawsuit is in progress. Also known as administrator ad prosequendum, meaning administrator 'during the prosecution.' administrator ad prosequendum See administrator ad litem.administrator cum testamento annexo See administrator with will annexed. administrator de bonis non (DBN) Latin for 'administrator of goods not administered.' This term refers to the person appointed by a probate court to finish probate proceedings when the executor or previous administrator can't finish the job.administrator de bonis non cum testamento annexo (DBNCTA) A baffling title for an administrator appointed by a probate court to take over probate proceedings when the named executor dies, leaving the job unfinished.administrator pendente lite Latin for 'administrator pending litigation.' This term refers to the person appointed by a court to begin probate proceedings during a lawsuit that challenges the will. The administrator pendente lite takes an inventory of the deceased person's property and handles the business affairs of the estate until the dispute is settled. Also called a special administrator.administrator with will annexed An administrator who takes the place of an executor under a will. The administrator steps in either when a will fails to nominate an executor or the named executor is unable to serve. Also called administrator cum testamento annexo or CTA, the Latin version of 'with the will annexed.'

EMPLOYEE RETIREMENT INCOME SECURITY ACT OF 1974 (ERISA)

A federal law passed to protect pension rights. ERISA: sets minimum standards for pension plans, guaranteeing that pension rights cannot be unfairly denied to o... (more...)
A federal law passed to protect pension rights. ERISA: sets minimum standards for pension plans, guaranteeing that pension rights cannot be unfairly denied to or taken from a worker provides some protection for workers in the event certain types of pension plans cannot pay the benefits to which workers are entitled, and requires that employers provide full and clear information about employees' pension rights, including the way pension benefits accumulate, how the company invests pension funds, and when and how pension benefits can be collected.

TRUSTEE POWERS

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

CERTIFIED COPY

A copy of a document issued by a court or government agency guaranteed to be a true and exact copy of the original. Many agencies and institutions require certi... (more...)
A copy of a document issued by a court or government agency guaranteed to be a true and exact copy of the original. Many agencies and institutions require certified copies of legal documents before permitting certain transactions. For example, a certified copy of a death certificate is required before a bank will release the funds in a deceased person's payable-on-death account to the person who has inherited them.

NONPROBATE

The distribution of a deceased person's property by any means other than probate. Many types of property pass free of probate, including property left to a surv... (more...)
The distribution of a deceased person's property by any means other than probate. Many types of property pass free of probate, including property left to a surviving spouse and property left outside of a will through probate-avoidance methods such as pay-on-death designations, joint tenancy ownership, living trusts and life insurance. Property that avoids probate is sometimes described as the 'nonprobate estate.' Nonprobate distribution may also occur if the deceased person leaves an invalid will. In that case, property will pass according to the particular state's laws of intestate succession.

ADMINISTRATRIX

An outdated term for a female administrator -- the person appointed by a court to handle probate on behalf of someone who died without a will. Now, whether male... (more...)
An outdated term for a female administrator -- the person appointed by a court to handle probate on behalf of someone who died without a will. Now, whether male or female, this person is called the administrator.

SAMPLE LEGAL CASES

Smith v. O'DONNELL

... 192 SW3d 780 (Tex.2006). 234 SW3d 135, 138. In Belt, we held that an executor was in privity with the decedent's attorneys and could sue them for estate-planning malpractice. 192 SW3d at 787. A prior case, Barcelo v. Elliott ...

In re Townley Bypass Unified Credit Trust

252 SW3d 715 (2008). In re TOWNLEY BYPASS UNIFIED CREDIT TRUST. No. 06-07-00025-CV. Court of Appeals of Texas, Texarkana. Submitted February 13, 2008. Decided April 9, 2008. 717 William E. Wylie, William E. Wylie ...

In re Estate of Henry

... in the 1996 revocable living trust agreement. In 2004, Thomas Henry and Ms. Henry met with Warren Nystrom, an attorney whose practice included estate planning and preparation of wills. On October 19, 2004, at the office ...