Settlement of Estates
The term “estate” has different meanings in legal terminology. In one usage, estate may mean all the possessions of one who has died and are subject to probate administration supervised by the court and distribution to heirs and beneficiaries. The Uniform Probate Code has shaped state law in this field. It includes provisions dealing with affairs and estates of the deceased and laws dealing with specified non testamentary transfers (transfers not through a will), like trusts and their administration. Since its creation, over thirty percent of states have adopted the Code substantially in whole.
Settlement of Trusts
A trust is the legal relationship between one person, the trustee, having an equitable ownership or management of certain property and another person, the beneficiary, owning the legal title to that property. The beneficiary is entitled to the performance of certain duties and the exercise of certain powers by the trustee, which performance may be enforced by a court of equity.
A guardianship is a legal relationship created when a person or institution named in a will or assigned by the court to take care of minor children or incompetent adults. Sometimes called a conservatorship. To become a guardian of a child either the party intending to be the guardian or another family member, a close friend or a local official responsible for a minor’s welfare will petition the court to appoint the guardian. The guardianship of a minor remains under court supervision until the child reaches majority at 18. The judge does not have to honor the request when someone is named in a will as guardian of one’s child in case of the death of the parent, it is construed as a preference, but is usually honored. The term “guardian” may also refer to someone who is appointed to care for and/or handle the affairs of a person who is incompetent or incapable of administering his/her affairs. Guardians must not benefit at the expense of those they care for (wards), and in many cases are required to make accountings to the court on a periodic basis. In some courts, a guardian may be reimbursed for attorney fees related to the guardianship. Court rules regarding accountings of expenses and requirements of guardians vary and local court rules should be consulted.