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LEGAL TERMS

INHERIT

To receive property from someone who has died. Traditionally, the word 'inherit' applied only when one received property from a relative who died without a will... (more...)
To receive property from someone who has died. Traditionally, the word 'inherit' applied only when one received property from a relative who died without a will. Currently, however, the word is used whenever someone receives property from the estate of a deceased person.

PER CAPITA

Under a will, the most common method of determining what share of property each beneficiary gets when one of the beneficiaries dies before the willmaker, leavin... (more...)
Under a will, the most common method of determining what share of property each beneficiary gets when one of the beneficiaries dies before the willmaker, leaving children of his or her own. For example, Fred leaves his house jointly to his son Alan and his daughter Julie. But Alan dies before Fred, leaving two young children. If Fred's will states that heirs of a deceased beneficiary are to receive the property per capita, Julie and the two grandchildren will each take a third. If, on the other hand, Fred's will states that heirs of a deceased beneficiary are to receive the property per stirpes, Julie will receive one-half of the property, and Alan's two children will share his half in equal shares (through Alan by right of representation).

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.

GRANTOR

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

GROSS ESTATE

For federal estate tax filing purposes, the total of all property owned at death, without regard to any debts or liens against the property or the costs of prob... (more...)
For federal estate tax filing purposes, the total of all property owned at death, without regard to any debts or liens against the property or the costs of probate. Taxes are due only on the value of the property the person actually owned (the net estate) plus the amount of any taxable gifts made during life. In a few states, the gross estate is used when computing attorney fees for probating estates; the lawyer gets a percentage of the gross estate.

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.

REAL ESTATE AGENT

A foot soldier of the real estate business who shows houses and does most of the other nitty-gritty tasks associated with selling real estate. An agent must hav... (more...)
A foot soldier of the real estate business who shows houses and does most of the other nitty-gritty tasks associated with selling real estate. An agent must have a state license and be supervised by a real estate broker. Most agents are completely dependent upon commissions from sellers for their income, so it pays to find out which side the agent represents (buyer, seller or both) before you place too much trust in the agent's opinion.

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).

NET ESTATE

The value of all property owned at death less liabilities or debts.

SAMPLE LEGAL CASES

Blondell v. Littlepage

... Noble v. Bruce, 349 Md. 730, 733, 709 A.2d 1264 (1998), rejected a third party beneficiary argument in consolidated cases involving malpractice actions by testamentary beneficiaries for negligent estate planning and negligent drafting of the testator's will, respectively. Id. ...

Attorney Grievance v. Coppola

... the Maryland Rules of Professional Conduct ("MRPC" or "Rule"), including Rule 1.2(d) (Scope of Representation), [2] Rules 3.3(a)(1) and (a)(2) (Candor Toward the Tribunal), [3] and Rules 8.4(a), (b), (c), and (d) (Misconduct), [4] with regard to estate planning services provided ...

Karsenty v. Schoukroun

... Facts. This case arises from a decedent's inter vivos distribution of his assets through the use of both probate and non-probate estate planning arrangements. ... This case centers on the estate planning arrangements that Gilles made in the last three to four months of his life. ...