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Encyclopedia > Probate
The law of wills and trusts
Part of the common law series
Inheritance
Intestacy  · Testator  · Probate
Power of appointment
Simultaneous death  · Slayer rule
Disclaimer of interest
Types of will
Holographic will  · Will contract
Living will
Joint wills and mutual wills
Parts of a will
Codicil  · Attestation clause
Incorporation by reference
Residuary clause
Problems of property disposition
Lapse and anti-lapse
Ademption  · Abatement
Acts of independent significance
Elective share  · Pretermitted heir
Contesting a will
Testamentary capacity
Undue influence
Types of Trusts
Express trust  · Asset-protection trust
Protective trust  · Spendthrift trust
Life insurance trust  · Remainder trust
Charitable trust  · Honorary trust
Resulting trust  · Constructive trust
Special needs trust: (general)/(U.S.)
Doctrines governing trusts
Pour-over will  · Cy pres doctrine
Other areas of the common law
Contract law  · Tort law  · Property law
Criminal law  · Evidence

Probate is the legal process of settling the estate of a deceased person; specifically, resolving all claims and distributing the decedent's property. Image File history File links Scale_of_justice. ... Weighing scales represent the way law balances peoples interests For other senses of this word, see Law (disambiguation). ... In the common law, a will or testament is a document by which a person (the testator) regulates the rights of others over his property or family after death. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... This article concerns the common-law legal system, as contrasted with the civil law legal system; for other meanings of the term, within the field of law, see common law (disambiguation). ... Intestacy is the condition of the estate of a person who dies owning property greater than the sum of his or her enforceable debts and funeral expenses without having made a valid will or other binding declaration; alternatively where such a will or declaration has been made, but only applies... A testator is a person who has made a legally binding will or testament, which specifies what is to be done with that persons penis family and/or property after death. ... A power of appointment is a term most frequently used in the law of wills to describe the ability of the testator (the person writing the will) to select a person who will be given the authority to dispose of certain property under the will. ... Simultaneous death is a problem of inheritence which occurs when two people (usually a husband and wife) die at the same time in an accident. ... The slayer rule, in the common law of inheritance, is a doctrine that prohibits inheritence by a person who murders someone from whom they stand to inherit. ... Disclaimer of interest (also called a renunciation), in the law of inheritance, wills and trusts, is a term that describes an attempt by a person to renounce their legal right to benefit from an inheritance (either under a will or through intestacy) or through a trust. ... In the common law, a will or testament is a document by which a person (the testator) regulates the rights of others over his property or family after death. ... A holographic will is a will and testament that has been entirely handwritten and signed by the testator. ... A will contract is a term used in the law of wills describing a contract to exchange a current performance for a future bequest. ... A living will, also called will to live, advance health directive, or advance health care directive, is a specific type of power of attorney or health care proxy or advance directive. ... -1... In the common law, a will or testament is a document by which a person (the testator) regulates the rights of others over his property or family after death. ... A codicil for a will is a small change (much like a Postscript (P.S.)) to the will that does not require a rewrite of the document. ... In the statutory law of wills and trusts, an attestation clause is a clause that is typically appended to a will, often just below the place of the testators signature. ... Incorporation by reference is a doctrine of the common law of wills by which a person may state in his will that certain property is to be disposed of by a seperate document, describing the place where the document will be found. ... A residuary estate, in the law of wills, is any portion of the testators estate that is not specifically devised to someone in the will, or any property that is part of such a specific devise that fails. ... Lapse and anti-lapse are complementary concepts under the law of wills, which address the disposition of property that is willed to someone who dies before the testator (the writer of the will). ... Ademption is a term used in the law of wills to determine what happens when property bequested under a will is no longer in the testators estate when the testator dies. ... Abatement (derived through the French abattre, from the Late Latin battere, to beat), a beating down or diminishing or doing away with; a term used especially in various legal phrases. ... The doctrine of acts of independent significance, in the common law of wills, permits the testator to effectively change the disposition of her property without changed her will, if acts or events with relation to the property itself have some significance beyond avoiding the requirements of the will. ... An elective share is a term used in American law relating to inheritance, which describes a proportion of an estate which the surviving spouse of the deceased may claim in place of what they were left in the decedents will. ... A pretermitted heir is a term used in the law of property to describe a person who would likely stand to inherit under a will, except that the testator (the person who wrote the will) did not know or did not know of the party at the time the will... A will contest, in the law of property, is a formal objection raised against the validity of a will, based on the contention that the will does not reflect the actual intent of the testator (the party who made the will). ... In the common law tradition, testamentary capacity is the legal term of art used to describe a persons legal and mental ability to make a valid will. ... Undue influence (as a term in jurisprudence) is an equitable doctrine that involves one person taking advantage of a position of power over another person. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... Where property is passed to a person but no gift is made, it is held for the owner, this is the Resulting trust; where property should for some reason of public policy or fairness or rule of Equity be held for someone other than the legal owner, this is either... An asset-protection trust is a term which covers a wide spectrum of legal structures. ... The Protective Trust is a form of settlement found in England and Wales and several Commonwealth countries. ... A spendthrift trust is a trust that is created for the benefit of a person who is in debt (often because they are unable to control their spending) that gives an independent trustee full authority to make decisions as to how the trust funds may be spent for the benefit... In the U.S., proper ownership of life insurance is important if the insurance proceeds are to escape federal estate taxation. ... A charitable trust (or charity) is a trust organized to serve private or public charitable purposes. ... An honorary trust, under the law of trusts, is a device by which a person establishes a trust for which there is neither a charitable purpose, nor a private beneficiary to enforce the trust. ... A resulting trust is a type of implied trust created through implication of law where the actions of the parties involved and the nature of the transaction implies an intention to create a trust. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Special Needs Trusts are created to ensure that beneficiaries who are developmentally disabled or mentally ill can receive inheritances without losing access to essential government benefits. ... Please wikify (format) this article as suggested in the Guide to layout and the Manual of Style. ... In common law legal systems, a trust is a contractual relationship in which a person or entity (the trustee) has legal title to certain property (the trust property or trust corpus), but is bound by a fiduciary duty to exercise that legal control for the benefit of one or more... A pour-over will is a testamentary device wherein the writer of a will creates a trust, and decrees in the will that the property in his estate at the time of his death shall be placed in the trust. ... The English cy pres doctrine (pronounced as see-pray) is a legal doctrine of the Court of equity. ... A contract is any promise or set of promises made by one party to another for the breach of which the law provides a remedy. ... In the common law, a tort is a civil wrong for which the law provides a remedy. ... Property law is the area of law that governs the various forms of ownership in real property (land as distinct from personal or movable possessions) and in personal property, within the common law legal system. ... Criminal law (also known as penal law) is the body of statutory and common law that deals with crime and the legal punishment of criminal offenses. ... The law of evidence governs the use of testimony (e. ... This article is about law in society. ... Estate is a term used in the common law. ... // Use of the term In common usage, property means ones own thing and refers to the relationship between individuals and the objects which they see as being their own to dispense with as they see fit. ...


In England and Wales, Ireland (N. and Eire) and Commonwealth countries, and some U.S. states, probate is obtained by executors of a will while Letters of Administration are granted where there are no executors. Letters of Administration are granted by a court or probate registry to appoint appropriate people to deal with a deceased persons estate where property will pass under Intestacy Rules or where there are no executors living (and willing and able to act) having been validly appointed under the deceased...

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Probate in the United States

In some states, after a person residing in that state has died without a valid will or trust, his or her property immediately becomes the property of the spouse, if any, without the need for probate. (This is the case in states that recognize a married couple's property as community property or as tenancy by the entireties.) However, in cases where the surviving spouse does not automatically succeed to the decedent's property, then it is usually necessary to "probate the estate", whether or not the decedent had a valid will. A court having jurisdiction of the decedent's estate (often called a "probate court") supervises probate, in order to ensure the decedent's property is distributed according to the direction of his will and the laws of the state. Community property is a marital property regime that originated in civil law jurisdictions, and is now also found in some common law jurisdictions. ... A concurrent estate or co-tenancy is a concept in property law, particularly derived from the common law of real property, which describes the various ways in which property can be owned by more than one person at a given time. ... In the common law, a will or testament is a document by which a person (the testator) regulates the rights of others over his property or family after death. ...


The will usually names an executor, a person tasked with carrying out the instructions laid out in the will. The executor's most common task is the marshalling of the decedent's assets throughout the probate process. If there is no will, or if the will does not name an executor, then the probate or other court having jurisdiction of the decedent's estate can appoint one. Traditionally, the representative of an intestate estate is called an administrator. The representative of a testate estate who is someone other than the executor named in the will is an administrator with the will annexed, or administrator c.t.a. (from the Latin cum testamento annexo.) The generic term for executors or administrators is personal representative. An executor is a person named by a maker of a will to carry out the directions of the will. ... An Executor or the administrator of an intestate estate. ...


Steps of probate

Some of the decedent's property may never enter probate because it passes to another person contractually, such as an insurance policy or bank account that names a beneficiary or is owned as "payable on death", and property (usually, again, a bank account) legally held as "jointly owned with right of survivorship". Property held in a living trust also avoids probate. In these cases, the personal representative provides documentation to the court, and the property is prevented from entering probate. A contract is a promise or an agreement made of a set of promises. ... A living trust (revocable living trust or inter vivos trust) is a type of trust created for the purpose of holding ownership to an individuals assets during the persons lifetime and for distributing those assets after death. ...


The first task of the personal representative after opening the probate case with the court is to inventory and collect the decedent's property.


Next, the personal representative pays any debts and taxes that must be paid.


Finally, the personal representative distributes the remaining property to the decedent's beneficiaries, either as instructed in the will, or per the intestacy laws of the state. Intestacy is the condition of the estate of a person who dies owning property greater than the sum of his or her enforceable debts and funeral expenses without having made a valid will or other binding declaration; alternatively where such a will or declaration has been made, but only applies...


Throughout this process there may be disputes. Anyone may make a claim on the estate, either by petitioning the personal representative or the court. If the claim is rejected, the claimant may file a lawsuit to attempt to prove the claim and collect money. Any dispute generally causes the court to treat the probate more formally, and it may reach the point where the court must approve every transfer of every piece of property. [1] A lawsuit is a civil action brought before a court in which the party commencing the action, the plaintiff, seeks a legal remedy. ...


The personal representative must understand and abide by the fiduciary duties (e.g., duty to keep monies in interest bearing account, duty to treat all beneficiaries equally, etc.) place on him or her. Disregard of the fiduciary duties may allow interested persons to petition for the removal of the personal representative and hold the personal representative liable for any harm to the estate.


Avoiding probate

Probate generally lasts several months, occasionally over a year before all the property can be distributed, and incur substantial court and attorney costs. One of the many ways to avoid probate is to execute a living trust. This is a separate entity to which a person transfers ownership of his real property (house, etc.,) from himself to a trust which he controls and can revise at any time (except in the case of an irrevocable trust.) Upon death, the persons named as beneficiaries in the trust acquire ownership of it and, therefore, the property the trust owns. As probate is a public process, a living trust has the added advantage of preserving the privacy of the deceased and his heirs as well as avoiding some estate tax. A living trust (revocable living trust or inter vivos trust) is a type of trust created for the purpose of holding ownership to an individuals assets during the persons lifetime and for distributing those assets after death. ... The examples and perspective in this article or section may not represent a worldwide view. ...


Life insurance, savings accounts, and joint tenancies with the right of survivorship are some of the other ways people use to avoid probate. ... Savings deposits are accounts maintained by banks, savings and loan associations, credit unions, and mutual savings banks that pay interest but can not be used directly as money. ... A concurrent estate or co-tenancy is a concept in property law, particularly derived from the common law of real property, which describes the various ways in which property can be owned by more than one person at a given time. ...


It must be noted that avoiding probate does not necessarily mean estate taxes have also been avoided, as the laws imposing the federal estate tax have been modified to include within the definition of the person's taxable estate, property held in a living trust, life insurance, "payable on death" or "transfer on death" financial instruments, and most other property which is transferred from a dead person to a living person in consequence of the death. Inter vivos trusts can reduce estate taxes if they are properly structured, but that is not related to the avoidance of probate. Generally, to avoid an estate/inheritance tax, a person must give it away irrevocably or leave it to a qualified charity. However the use of credit shelter trusts (also called AB trusts) can allow a married couple to preserve both unified credits, allowing up to twice the total estate to pass to heirs without estate tax. This may reduce or eliminate the total tax the couple would have otherwise paid.


Probate under English and Welsh law

For an explanation of the probate process in England and Wales, see administration. Look up Administration in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...


External links

Links to non-commercial sources of probate information and case law:


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