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LEGAL TERMS

TRUST MERGER

Under a trust, the situation that occurs when the sole trustee and the sole beneficiary are the same person or institution. Then, there's no longer the separati... (more...)
Under a trust, the situation that occurs when the sole trustee and the sole beneficiary are the same person or institution. Then, there's no longer the separation between the trustee's legal ownership of trust property from the beneficiary's interest. The trust 'merges' and ceases to exist.

EXEMPTION TRUST

A bypass trust funded with an amount no larger than the personal federal estate tax exemption in the year of death. If the trust grantor leaves property worth m... (more...)
A bypass trust funded with an amount no larger than the personal federal estate tax exemption in the year of death. If the trust grantor leaves property worth more than that amount, it usually goes to the surviving spouse. The trust property passes free from estate tax because of the personal exemption, and the rest is shielded from tax under the surviving spouse's marital deduction.

EXECUTOR

The person named in a will to handle the property of someone who has died. The executor collects the property, pays debts and taxes, and then distributes what's... (more...)
The person named in a will to handle the property of someone who has died. The executor collects the property, pays debts and taxes, and then distributes what's left, as specified in the will. The executor also handles any probate court proceedings and notifies people and organizations of the death. Also called personal representatives.

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.

BYPASS TRUST

A trust designed to lessen a family's overall estate tax liability. An AB trust is the most popular kind of bypass trust.

SPENDTHRIFT TRUST

A trust created for a beneficiary the grantor considers irresponsible about money. The trustee keeps control of the trust income, doling out money to the benefi... (more...)
A trust created for a beneficiary the grantor considers irresponsible about money. The trustee keeps control of the trust income, doling out money to the beneficiary as needed, and sometimes paying third parties (creditors, for example) on the beneficiary's behalf, bypassing the beneficiary completely. Spendthrift trusts typically contain a provision prohibiting creditors from seizing the trust fund to satisfy the beneficiary's debts. These trusts are legal in most states, even though creditors hate them.

DOWER AND CURTESY

A surviving spouse's right to receive a set portion of the deceased spouse's estate -- usually one-third to one-half. Dower (not to be confused with a 'dowry') ... (more...)
A surviving spouse's right to receive a set portion of the deceased spouse's estate -- usually one-third to one-half. Dower (not to be confused with a 'dowry') refers to the portion to which a surviving wife is entitled, while curtesy refers to what a man may claim. Until recently, these amounts differed in a number of states. However, because discrimination on the basis of sex is now illegal in most cases, most states have abolished dower and curtesy and generally provide the same benefits regardless of sex -- and this amount is often known simply as the statutory share. Under certain circumstances, a living spouse may not be able to sell or convey property that is subject to the other spouse's dower and curtesy or statutory share rights.

HEIR APPARENT

One who expects to be receive property from the estate of a family member, as long as she outlives that person.

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.

SAMPLE LEGAL CASES

Estate of James v. Peyton

In these consolidated interlocutory appeals arising from a personal injury action, we consider whether the circuit court erred in concluding that an amended motion for judgment properly names an administrator of an estate rather than the estate itself as a party defendant. Specifically, ...

Idoux v. Estate of Helou

On September 2, 2008, Idoux filed the present negligence action in the circuit court and identified the defendant as the "Estate of Raja Alexander Helou." On November 17, 2008, Idoux served the personal representative of the Estate with the complaint, after the relevant statute of ...

Williams v. COM., REAL ESTATE BOARD

The underlying facts in this matter are highly contested, and rather convoluted. In the fall of 2004, Williams was a licensed real estate agent working for Virginia Real Estate and Development, Inc. (VARED). On December 8, 2004, Williams entered into an agreement ...