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LEGAL TERMS

DEED OF TRUST

See trust deed.

PETITION

A formal written request made to a court, asking for an order or ruling on a particular matter. For example, if you want to be appointed conservator for an elde... (more...)
A formal written request made to a court, asking for an order or ruling on a particular matter. For example, if you want to be appointed conservator for an elderly relative, you must file a petition with a court. See also complaint.

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.

CONTINGENT BENEFICIARY

1) An alternate beneficiary named in a will, trust or other document. 2) Any person entitled to property under a will if one or more prior conditions are satisf... (more...)
1) An alternate beneficiary named in a will, trust or other document. 2) Any person entitled to property under a will if one or more prior conditions are satisfied. For example, if Fred is entitled to take property under a will only if he's married at the time of the will maker's death, Fred is a contingent beneficiary. Similarly, if Ellen is named to receive a house only in the event her mother, who has been named to live in the house, moves out of it, Ellen is a contingent beneficiary.

RULE AGAINST PERPETUITIES

An exceedingly complex legal doctrine that limits the amount of time that property can be controlled after death by a person's instructions in a will. For examp... (more...)
An exceedingly complex legal doctrine that limits the amount of time that property can be controlled after death by a person's instructions in a will. For example, a person would not be allowed to leave property to her husband for his life, then to her children for their lives, then to her grandchildren. The gift would potentially go to the grandchildren at a point too remote in time.

INTER VIVOS TRUST

The Latin name, favored by some lawyers, for a living trust. 'Inter vivos' is Latin for 'between the living.'

CREDIT SHELTER TRUST

See AB trust.

DISINHERIT

To deliberately prevent someone from inheriting something. This is usually done by a provision in a will stating that someone who would ordinarily inherit prope... (more...)
To deliberately prevent someone from inheriting something. This is usually done by a provision in a will stating that someone who would ordinarily inherit property -- a close family member, for example -- should not receive it. In most states, you cannot completely disinherit your spouse; a surviving spouse has the right to claim a portion (usually one-third to one-half) of the deceased spouse's estate. With a few exceptions, however, you can expressly disinherit children.

REMAINDERMAN

Someone who will inherit property in the future. For instance, if someone dies and leaves his home 'to Alma for life, and then to Barry,' Barry is a remainderma... (more...)
Someone who will inherit property in the future. For instance, if someone dies and leaves his home 'to Alma for life, and then to Barry,' Barry is a remainderman because he will inherit the home in the future, after Alma dies.