Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Duhaime's Trusts, Wills, Estates and Probate Law Dictionary

Duhaime's Trusts, Wills, Estates & Probate Law Dictionary

  • Legal terms defined from the weird and wonderful world of trusts, wills, estates, probate, adult guardianship and elder law. This is the app for that....

Accounting
A detailed statement of the debits and credits between parties arising out of a contract or a fiduciary relation.
Accounts
The written, detailed or summary, record of a person's management or administration of an estate or of a particular matter.
Ad Colligendum Bona
Latin: for the collection of the goods of the deceased.
Ademption
When property identified in a will cannot be given to the beneficiary because it no longer belonged to the deceased at the time of death.
Ad Litem
Latin: for the suit.
Administrator
A person who manages (administers) the assets of another, such as an estate administrator or the administrator of an insurance plan.
Adult Guardianship
The body of law as related to the investigation into the ability of an adult to manage his or her person or affairs, and the resultant guardianship.
Advanced Health Care Directive
A document which includes directions about preferences for health care treatment.
Agnatio
Latin: members of a group having a common male ancestor.
Ambulatory
Something which is mobile or not cast in stone; which can be changed.
Apportionment
The division and distribution of something into proportionate parts; to each according to their share.
Armchair Rule
A rule of interpretation that a judge, called upon to interpret an otherwise unclear legal document, shall take into account the circumstances in which the document was created.
Arm's Length
A transaction or relationship where there is an absence of control the one over the other.
Authentic Act
Civil law: a contract or other legal document which has been properly prepared or authenticated by a court officer, such as a notary, and thereafter given enhanced evidentiary status of its authenticity.
Avunculus
Latin: a mother's brother.
Bare Trust
A trust that is or has become passive for the trustee because all the duties the settlor may have imposed upon the trustee have been performed or any conditions or terms have come to fruition.
Bare Trustee
The trustee of a bare trust; a trust that has been reduced to holding the trust property at the absolute disposal and benefit of the beneficiaries.
Bastard
An illegitimate child, born in a relationship between two persons that are not married (ie. not in wedlock) or who are not married at the time of the child’s birth.
Beneficiary
The person for whom a trust has been created.
Benefit of Inventory
A right of legal or testamentary beneficiaries to an estate to demand of the administrator an inventory of the estate.
Blind Trust
A trust in which a settlor reserves the right to terminate the trust but to assert no other power over the trust, which is administered without any other measure of control over the trust's administration.
Bond
A written guarantee in regards to the fulfillment of a legal obligation.
Breach Of Trust
Any act or omission on the part of the trustee which is inconsistent with the terms of the trust agreement or the law of trusts.
Capacity
The power to acquire and assert legal rights.
Caveat
Latin: let him beware. A formal warning.
Certificate of Inheritance
A formal legal probate document issued in Germany.
Cessate Grant
A grant of probate that is made after a limited grant has served its purpose.
Cestui Que Trust or Cestui Que Use
Latin: the beneficiary of a trust.
Chaste
A person who has never voluntarily had sexual intercourse outside of marriage such as unmarried virgins.
Citation
An order of a court to either do a certain thing or to appear before it to answer charges.
Civil Law
A body of law derived and evolved directly from Roman Law, the primary feature of which is that laws are struck in writing; codified, and not determined, as in the common law, by the opinions of judges based on historic customs.
Clean Hands
A maxim of the law to the effect that any person, individual or corporate, that wishes to ask or petition a court for judicial action, must be in a position free of fraud or other unfair conduct.
Codicil
An amendment to an existing will.
Cognates
Relations through the mother.
Collateral Descendant
A descendant that is not direct, such as a niece or a cousin.
Committee
A term of parliamentary law which refers to a body of one or more persons appointed by a larger assembly or society, to consider, investigate and/or take action on certain specific matters.
Commorientes
Two or more persons dying at about the same time, usually in the same event, but in circumstances in which it is impossible to determine the order of death.
Competency
An individual's ability to understand the nature and object of legal proceedings being presented, and to consult with counsel.
Concurrent Estates
Property interests owned by two or more persons at the same time.
Conflict of Interest
A personal interest that conflicts with a public or fidiciary interest.
Consanguinity
Common blood, descendants of a same common ancestor.
Constructive Trust
A trust which a court declares or imposes onto participants in very specific circumstances such as those giving rise to an action for unjust enrichment, and notwithstanding the lack of any willing settlor to declare the trust.
Coparcenary
The co-ownership of property which has devolved intestate.
Cremation
The reduction of the body of a deceased human to its essential elements by incineration.
Curtesy
Widower's right to an interest in his deceased wife's real property.
Cy-pres
As near as may be.
Death Duties
Tax payments due to the state, incurred and payable as a result of the death of the tax-payer.
De Bonis Non
Latin: assets not yet administered.
Decedent
An individual who has died.
Delusion
A firm yet irrational belief and which may affect an individual's capacity to contract.
Devise
The transfer or conveyance of property by will, usually in reference to real property.
Digital Executor
An executor tasked by the will-maker to deal with and wrap-up digital accounts of the deceased such as Facebook and the like.
Discretionary Trust
A trust in which the settlor has given the trustee full discretion to decide which (and when) members of a defined group of beneficiaries is to receive either the income or the capital of the trust.
Donatio Mortis Causa
A death-bed gift, made by a dying person, with the intent that the person receiving the gift shall keep the thing if death ensues.
Donee
The recipient of a trust; either the trustee or the beneficiary.
Donor
The person who donates property to the benefit of another, usually through the legal mechanism of a trust.
Dotage
The gradual and inevitable deterioration of cognitive functioning caused by aging.
Droit d'aubaine
French: an ancient right to keep the property of any deceased foreign subject.
Dum Casta
Latin: for so long as she remains chaste.
Dum Sola
Latin: for so long as she remains unmarried.
Dum Sola et Casta Vixerit
Latin: for so long as she remains single (unmarried) and chaste.
Dum Vidua
Latin: for so long as she remains a widow.
Duress
Where a person is prevented from acting (or not acting) according to their free will, by threats or force of another.
Ejusdem or Eiusdem Generis
Of the same kind or nature.
Endowment
The devotion of property to a specific and particular trust.
Enduring or Continuing Power of Attorney
A power of attorney that continues even if and after a donor becomes incapacitated.
En Ventre Sa Mere
French: A fetus recognized as a child then alive for the purposes of wills and estates.
Equitable Fraud
Conduct which, having regard to some special relationship between the two parties concerned, is an unconscionable thing for the one to do towards the other.
Equity
A branch of English law which developed hundreds of years ago when litigants would go to the King and complain of harsh or inflexible rules of common law which prevented "justice" from prevailing.
Estate
A person's property; often used to refer to the net worth of a deceased individual.
Estate Freeze
A deferment of property transfer at the time of death to avoid, reduce or transfer tax liability.
Estate Law
That part of the law which regulates wills, trusts, probate and other subjects related to the management of another's property.
Executor
A person specifically appointed by a will-maker to administer the will ensuring that final wishes are respected (i.e. that the will is properly "executed").
Executor De Son Tort
A person who meddles with the estate of a deceased person.
Executor's Year
The year from date of death generally granted to the executor to collect and disburse the testator's assets.
Exordium
Latin: introduction.
Express Trust
A trust which is clearly created by the settlor, usually in the form of a document (eg. a will), although they can be oral.
Falsa Demonstratio Non Nacet
A wrong description of an item in a legal document (such as a will) will not necessarily void the gift if it can be determined from other facts.
Family Trust
A trust device generally restricted to beneficiaries of a same family.
Fiduciary
A legal duty of loyalty and faithfulness towards another.
Fixed Trust
A trust in which a beneficiary has an entitlement to a fixed income.
Fraud
Deceitful or deceptive conduct designed to manipulate another person to give something of value.
Funeral
Formal observances held for a deceased person, usually before burial or cremation.
Gift
A transfer of property with nothing given in return.
Gift Over
To provide for the gift of property to a second recipient if a certain event occurs, such as the death of the first recipient.
Global Deterioration Scale
A psychiatric tool charting stages of dementia.
Guardian Ad Litem
A guardian appointed to direct litigation on behalf and in the interests of a person otherwise incapable of managing their affairs.
Guardian of the Estate
A person who is appointed to manage the property and financial affairs of an incapable individual.
Guardian of the Person
A person appointed to manage the health and well-being of another.
Half-Secret Trust
A secret trust in which the donor announces the trust but not the objects or the beneficiaries.
Heir
A beneficiary of a will or an intestacy.
Hereditas
Latin: the estate of a deceased person.
Hereditas Damnosa
Latin: an inheritance that is more of a burden than a benefit.
Hereditas Jacens
Latin: an unclaimed estate.
Heritable Obligation
A legal obligation or right which is not extinguished by the death of the person who held those rights, or was liable for the obligation, but are transferred to the estate.
Heroic Measures
Artificial or emergency healthcare measures with or without the use of machinery, designed to revive an individual who but for those measures, would in all probability die.
Holograph Will
A will written entirely in the testator’s handwriting and not witnessed.
Hotchpot
The mixing of property for the purposing of effecting a proportionate division.
Human Remains
The body of a deceased person, in whole or in parts, regardless of its stage of decomposition.
Illegitimate Child
A child born out of wedlock
Incapacitated
An individual who lacks the ability to meet essential requirements for physical health, safety, or self-care.
Incompetency
An individual who has a significant risk of personal harm based upon an inability to adequately provide for nutrition, health, housing, or physical safety.
Interlineation
An addition of something to a document after it has been signed.
International Will
A will which which is valid if meeting the requirements of an international wills statute and notwithstanding deficiencies in form as regards to domestic wills.
Inter Vivos
Latin: from one living person to another living person.
Inure
To take effect, to result; to come into operation.
Inurement Clause
A clause in a clegal document, such as a contract or will, that purports to extend the benefits of the document beyond the signatories.
Issue
Biological descendants.
Juristic Reason
An explanation based upon law for the enrichment of one at the detriment of another.
Jus Detractus
Latin: The right to deduct.
Kin
A blood relative.
Legatee
The person to whom personal property is gifted pursuant to a will.
Legitimate Child
A child conceived or born during marriage.
Life Estate
A right to use and to enjoy land and/or structures on land only for the life of the life tenant.
Life Tenant
The beneficiary of a life estate.
Lineal Descendant
A person who is a direct descendant such as a child to his or her natural parent.
Liquidation
The converting of the the assets of a person into cash.
Living Trust
A trust from persons to take effect during their living years, to benefit others.
Living Will
A document that sets out guidelines for dealing with life-sustaining medical procedures in the eventuality of the signatory's sudden debilitation and inability to communicate those preferences.
Lost Will
A will that has been lost and which may, under certain circumstances, be reconstructed for probate.
Lunacy law
The law as it relates to the assessment and committal of persons incapable of managing themselves or their affairs.
Lunatic
An individual who, though once of sound mind, can no longer manage his person or his affairs.
Memorandum of Articles
A written direction to accompany a will, as to the distribution of specific items of property.
Micro Board
A non-profit corporation, usually of family members and friends of a person with a disability, to support that person.
Mobilia Sequuntur Personam, Immobilia Situa
Latin: movables follow the person, immovables their locality.
Mortis Omnia Solvit
Latin: Death puts an end to everything.
Mystic Will
A sealed and secret will requiring strict formalities and available only in limited civil law jurisdictions.
Notary
A legal officer with specific judicial authority to attest to legal documents usually with an official seal.
Occupational Therapy
The employment and function assessment and treatment of post-injury, illness or disability.
Orphan
A person who has lost one or both of his or her natural parents.
Parentelic
Lineal; an intestate estate distribution that promotes lineal descendants.
Pendente Lite
Latin: during litigation.
Per Capita
Latin: by the head.
Permanent Unconscious Condition
An incurable and irreversible condition in which the individual is medically assessed as having no reasonable probability of recovery from an irreversible coma or a permanent vegetative state.
Permissive Waste
The failure of a possessor of a thing to exercise the care of a reasonable person to preserve and protect the estate for future interests.
Personal Representative
The person who administers the estate of a deceased person as executor or Court-appointed administrator.
Per Stirpes
Latin: by the plant.
Pia Causa
Latin: charitable purposes.
Plene Administravit
Latin for administration (is) complete.
Power of Attorney
A document which gives a person the right to make binding decisions for another, as an agent.
Precatory Words
Words that express a wish or a desire rather than a clear command.
Primogeniture
Oldest son inherits.
Probate
The formal certificate given by a court that certifies that a will has been proven, validated and registered and which, from that point on, gives the executor the legal authority to execute the will.
Proof in Common Form
A summary approval of an uncontested will by the court, subject to subsequent contest.
Proof in Solemn Form
The pronouncement by a court that a will is formally approved and not subject to later contest barring fraud or the discovery of a later will.
Propinquity
Nearness in place; close-by.
Propound
To offer a document as being authentic or valid.
Public Policy
Certain acts or contracts are said to be against public policy if they tend to promote breach of the law, of the policy behind a law or tend to harm the state or its citizens.
Putative Father
A presumed but not DNA-confirmed father of a child.
Quistclose Trust
A trust which arises to the benefit of the donor when property is advanced for a specific purpose and that purpose fails.
Relator
An informer; a person who has supplied the facts required for a criminal prosecution or a civil suit, or who institutes legal action on behalf of the government.
Remainderman
The individual who, in a trust such as an estate,, stands to take the final residue, whatever is remaining once the trusts have all been satisfied.
Resulting Trust
A trust that is presumed by the court from certain situations.
Reversion
A future interest left in a transferor or his (or her) heirs. A reservation in a real property conveyance that the property reverts back to the original owner upon the occurrence of a certain event.
Revocable Trust
A trust which can be revoked at the discretion of the settlor.
Rule Against Perpetuities
A common law rule that prevents suspending the transfer of property for more than 21 years or a lifetime plus 21 years.
Rule in Allhusen v. Whittel
A suggestion of proportionality as between the beneficiary of a life estate and the ultimate beneficiaries as to liability for ongoing estate expenses during the estate.
Rule in Shelley's Case
A mostly abolished rule in estate law to the effect that if a life estate was created but the remainderman was the heir of that person, the life estate collapsed and the entire estate vested in that person.
Saunders v. Vautier, Rule in
The terms of a trust (eg. will) can be terminated if all beneficiaries of the trust, being of full legal capacity, consent.
Scintilla Juris
Latin: a spark of legal right.
Secret Trust
A trust where, to a stated beneficiary, the donor secretly communicates that he/she holds title in trust for another.
Settlement
An agreement, or the document which articulates the agreement, which sets or resolves rights.
Settlor
The person who actually creates a trust by donating property to be managed and administered by a trustee but from which all profits would go to a beneficiary.
Spendthrift Trust
US law: a trust which in design prevents a beneficiary from depleting the trust funds, or from his creditors demanding payment therefrom.
Springing Power of Attorney
A power of attorney which becomes legally effective on the occurrence of an event (such as incapacity).
Sprinkling Trust
Discretion given to a trustee to distribute income from a trust fund disproportionately between beneficiaries.
Statutory Trust
A trust created by the effect of a statute.
Step-Child
Help!
Successor
A person who takes over the rights of another.
Suspicious Circumstances
Circumstances in the preparation or signing of a document that give rise to suspicion as to mental capacity of, or fraud or duress upon the signatory.
Terminal Condition
An incurable and irreversible condition caused by injury, disease, or illness that would cause death within a reasonable period of time in accordance with accepted medical standards, and where the application of life-sustaining treatment would serve only to prolong the process of dying.
Testament
A document to take effect upon the death of the author and in which his or her chattels are transferred to a new owner.
Testamentary Capacity
The legal ability to sign a will.
Testamentary Freedom
The freedom of individuals to dispose of their property upon death as they see fit.
Testamentary Trust
A trust created by a will and which takes effect upon the death of the testator.
Testator
The signatory of a valid will.
Totten Trust
Money placed in a bank account with the instruction that upon the settler's death, whatever is in that bank account will pass to a named beneficiary.
Traverse
To deny an allegation or the validity of an office or of some other official act.
Trust
A legal obligation with respect to property given by a person (donor) to another (trustee) to the advantage of a beneficiary
Trustee
A person who holds property rights for the benefit of another.
Unitrust
A trust which in the distribution of benefits from time to time to the beneficiary, pools capital and income, and does not otherwise distinguish between the capital of the trust and the income of the trust for the purposes of establishing interim payments to a beneficiary.
Unjust Enrichment
Benefiting from the action or property of another without legal justification.
Unnatural Will
A will which differs from what might of been otherwise expected of a testator such as a large gift to a stranger, or the exclusion of his children from his estate.
Use
Latin: trust.
Uterine
Related to the uterus or, in estate law, siblings issue of a common mother.
Viz
Latin: to wit, that is to say.
Voluntary Waste
The possessor's direct acts or activity of harming property which he or she holds for another, as in a trustee for a trust beneficiary.
Waqf
Muslim law: property dedicated to charitable purposes.
Waste
The abuse, destruction or permanent change to property by one who is merely in possession of it as in the case of a tenant or a life tenant.
Weapon of Mass Destruction
Device designed to kill humans through the use of atomic or nuclear energy or the release of chemicals, poisons, biological agents or radioactivity.
Widow's Quarantine
A reprieve given to a widow after the death of her husband giving her 40-day exclusive occupancy of the spousal home, estate notwithstanding.
Will
A written statement, usually signed, made by an individual, which directs the distribution of their property when they die.
Words of Limitation
Words in a conveyance or in a will which set the duration of an estate.
Words of Purchase
Also known as words of substitution; words which describe what should happen to a gift if the person first named is no longer alive when it takes effect.

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