Trust and Estates Newsletters

Basic Vocabulary and Execution

A will is a legal document that explains where a person wants or does not want his property to go after his death. A will becomes effective upon death and until then, it can be revoked or amended. If a person dies without a will, a court will determine where his property goes according to state law.

Inheritance Without Planning Means No Adding to the Default Plan

When a person dies intestate (without making and leaving a will), each state provides a default plan (usually known as the statute of descent and distribution) under which his or her net estate is disposed. When a person dies intestate, there is no adding to the default plan. The default plan is the only plan. This article discusses the disadvantages of descent and distribution related to the inability to add to the default plan.

Revocable Living Trust

In many jurisdictions, trusts cannot be revoked unless the trustor expressly retains the right to revoke. Revocable living trusts allow a trustor to manage his assets, to plan for his incapacity, and to avoid probate.

Special Conditions in a Will

As a general rule, a devise, a bequest, a legacy, or a trust in a will may benefit any person or legal entity. One major limitation is that is that a devise, a bequest, a legacy, or a trust in a will may not benefit a person or legal entity, if it does not meet a condition imposed by the testator. Most conditions are routine, such as rewarding a child with more money if he or she attends college. Some conditions are more unusual, and so, special.

Trust Modification and Termination

A court will modify a trust where the trust's leading purpose is frustrated by a specific directive made by the trustor.