Trust and Estates Newsletters
Traditionally, a state statute of descent and distribution provides the order of preference for disposal of an intestate’s net estate. As a general rule, the person or persons with the highest rank in the order of preference who survive the intestate take all of the intestate’s net estate.
The dead bodies of human beings are not property. The dead bodies of human beings are not disposed of by a state’s statute of descent and distribution. If a person does not leave directions in a will or other document for the disposition of his or her dead body, his or her dead body is usually disposed of as provided by local custom.
One of the main purposes for making and leaving a will is to guide the administration of the estate of the testator–the person who made the will. A will should be written in language that is clear and indisputable. Alas, the language in a will may be unclear or vague. This article discusses the will interpretation and construction issues of precatory language, ademption, and abatement.
In order to make a will, a person must intend to make a will. A person must have what is known as testamentary intent. The adjective ‘testamentary’ means related to a will, and is a derivative of the word ‘testament’–the Latin word for will. The Latin phrase for testamentary intent is animus testandi, "the intention to make a testament."
A trust has five main elements. First, a settlor transfers some or all of his or her property. Second, the property transferred by the settlor is designated trust property. Third, the trust property designated by the settlor is transferred with the settlor’s intent that it be managed by another. Fourth, the trust property designated by the settlor is transferred for management by a trustee. Fifth, the trust property designated by the settlor is managed by a trustee for the benefit of a beneficiary.