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LEGAL TERMS

PROBATE

The court process following a person's death that includes proving the authenticity of the deceased person's will appointing someone to handle the deceased pers... (more...)
The court process following a person's death that includes proving the authenticity of the deceased person's will appointing someone to handle the deceased person's affairs identifying and inventorying the deceased person's property paying debts and taxes identifying heirs, and distributing the deceased person's property according to the will or, if there is no will, according to state law. Formal court-supervised probate is a costly, time-consuming process -- a windfall for lawyers -- which is best avoided if possible.

PRETERMITTED HEIR

A child or spouse who is not mentioned in a will and whom the court believes was accidentally overlooked by the person who made the will. For example, a child b... (more...)
A child or spouse who is not mentioned in a will and whom the court believes was accidentally overlooked by the person who made the will. For example, a child born or adopted after the will is made may be deemed a pretermitted heir. If the court determines that an heir was accidentally omitted, that heir is entitled to receive the same share of the estate as she would have if the deceased had died without a will. A pretermitted heir is sometimes called an 'omitted heir.'

QDOT TRUST

A trust used to postpone estate tax when more than the amount of the personal federal estate tax exemption is left to a non-U.S. citizen spouse by the other spo... (more...)
A trust used to postpone estate tax when more than the amount of the personal federal estate tax exemption is left to a non-U.S. citizen spouse by the other spouse. QDOT stands for qualified domestic trust.

TRUSTEE

The person who manages assets owned by a trust under the terms of the trust document. A trustee's purpose is to safeguard the trust and distribute trust income ... (more...)
The person who manages assets owned by a trust under the terms of the trust document. A trustee's purpose is to safeguard the trust and distribute trust income or principal as directed in the trust document. With a simple probate-avoidance living trust, the person who creates the trust is also the trustee.

IN TERROREM

Latin meaning 'in fear.' This phrase is used to describe provisions in contracts or wills meant to scare a person into complying with the terms of the agreement... (more...)
Latin meaning 'in fear.' This phrase is used to describe provisions in contracts or wills meant to scare a person into complying with the terms of the agreement. For example, a will might state that an heir will forfeit her inheritance if she challenges the validity of the will. Of course, if the will is challenged and found to be invalid, then the clause itself is also invalid and the heir takes whatever she would have inherited if there were no will.

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.

MINERAL RIGHTS

An ownership interest in the minerals contained in a particular parcel of land, with or without ownership of the surface of the land. The owner of mineral right... (more...)
An ownership interest in the minerals contained in a particular parcel of land, with or without ownership of the surface of the land. The owner of mineral rights is usually entitled to either take the minerals from the land himself or receive a royalty from the party that actually extracts the minerals.

BANKRUPTCY ESTATE

All of the property you own when you file for bankruptcy, except for most pensions and educational trusts. The trustee technically takes control of your bankrup... (more...)
All of the property you own when you file for bankruptcy, except for most pensions and educational trusts. The trustee technically takes control of your bankruptcy estate for the duration of your case.

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.

SAMPLE LEGAL CASES

In re Estate of Tyner

Lacey Westbrook appeals from an adverse summary judgment rendered in the declaratory judgment action she initiated to have JW Tyner's will construed. Westbrook contends the trial court erroneously determined that she is not a beneficiary under the will, set the wrong postjudgment ...

In re Estate of Rhea

In October 2005, Charlotte and Trenton notified Charles of their intent to remove Wanda's personal property from the marital home. Charles labeled some of the possessions in the home to mark his own separate property, then left the house from November 11 through November 14. ...

In re Estate of Gaines

In eight issues, appellants argue (1) the trial court improperly disqualified Davis from serving as the independent executor because no motion to disqualify or opposition was filed, (2) the trial court erred in requiring Davis to turn over funds, (3) the trial court erred in denying ...