An individual or organization to which a gift of property is made. Person (or organization) receiving benefits under a legal instrument such as a will, trust, or life insurance policy. Except when very small estates are involved, beneficiaries of wills only receive their benefits after the will is examined and approved by the probate court. Beneficiaries of trusts receive their benefits directly as provided in the trust instrument.


The first-person legal term used to leave someone personal property in the will, e.g., I bequeath my antique car to my brother Jody.


The legal term used to describe personal property left in a will.


Cash or securities that are placed in a bank, trust company, insured savings and loan or insured brokerage account, subject to withdrawal only upon court order or statute.


A document guaranteeing that a certain amount of money will be paid to the victim if a person occupying a position of trust does not carry out his legal and ethical responsibilities. If an executor, trustee or guardian who is bonded wrongfully deprives a beneficiary of his/her property, the bonding company will replace it, up the limits of the bond.


A written document that outlines a partys legal arguments in a case.


A trust into which just enough of a decedents estate passes, so that the estate can take advantage of the unified credit against federal estate taxes. Also known as credit-shelter trust, A-B trust, or marital life estate trust.

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