Important Definitions of Legal
Age of Majority - "Age at which a person
may contract (usually 18 in most States); sometimes referred to as full
age; legal age; adulthood. Age at which one may execute a valid Will or
Bequest - "a gift by Will of personal property…a
Codicil - "a supplement or an addition to a Will;
it may explain, modify, add to, subtract from, qualify, alter, restrain
or revoke provisions in a Will". For example,
This is a Codicil to the last Will of me, [name],
of [address], California, which last Will is dated [date of Will]
and is referred to in this Codicil as “my Will”.
1. [insert desired changes]
2. In all other respects I confirm my Will.
Signed by [name] as a Codicil to [his/her] Will on [month,
(a Codicil must be properly completed and signed liked a Will; 2 witnesses,
Executor Remuneration - State law
prescribes the remuneration usually as a percentage of the value of your
Intestate - "a person is said to die intestate
when he or she dies without making a Will, or dies without leaving anything
to testify what his or her wishes were with respect to the disposal of his
or her property after his or her death".
Succession - "a succession is called "intestate" when the deceased has
left no Will, or when his or her Will has been revoked or annulled as irregular".
Your property will be distributed according to State law: Firstly, to your
spouse and children (in percentages that vary from State to State); Secondly,
if you die without a spouse or children, your estate will pass to other
relatives based on a prescribed formula.
Intestate Successors - These persons
are deemed by State law as the persons upon whom an intestate's Estate will
devolve (be distributed) and the amount that these persons will receive.
Issue - "includes all lineal descendants of the
Joint Tenancy - "the ownership of land in
common by several persons where there is a right of survivorship; i.e.,
where on the death of one joint owner the land as a whole vests in the survivors,
and can only be disposed of Will by the last surviving owner". For example
where spouses are the registered owner of a home "as joint tenants", then
on the death of one of the spouses, the surviving spouse is vested with
full ownership of the home irrespective of what the deceased spouse's Will
Mental Capacity - "contemplates the ability
to understand the nature and effect of the act in which a person is engaged
and the business he is transacting…such a measure of intelligence, understanding,
memory, and judgment (relative to the particular transaction) as will enable
the person to understand the nature of the act"
Probate - An Order granted by a Judge of the Court
to the effect that a Will of a certain person has been proved and registered
in Court and that administration of the Estate has been granted to an Executor/Trustee
proving the Will, the Executor/Trustee having first sworn to administer
the assets of the Estate and having completed an inventory of the Estate
and agreeing to account for the Estate assets when called upon.
Residue - The amount of an Estate that remains
after all charges, debts, liabilities, and specific bequests have been paid
and specific gifts of articles delivered.
Suspicious Circumstances - Any
circumstances surrounding the signing or preparation of a Will that casts
doubt on the Testator's capacity to make a Will or touch upon a Testator's
intention relative to the Will's contents, such circumstances including:
beneficiary involvement in clandestine Will preparation, Testator's dependence
on beneficiary or isolation from "natural" beneficiaries, dramatic changes
from the provisions contained in an earlier Will and a Testator's seriously
Testator - "one who makes a Will".
- "a property interest held by one person for the benefit of another person".
Undue Influence - "where a person makes
a disposition of property under such circumstances as to show or give rise
to the presumption that he has not been allowed to exercise a free and deliberate
judgment on the matter".
- Will -
"the legal expression or declaration of a person's mind or wishes as to
the disposition of his property, to be performed or to take effect after