PART 2.  DEFINITIONS

 

     §560:1-201  General definitions.  Subject to additional definitions contained in the subsequent articles that are applicable to specific articles, parts, or sections, and unless the context otherwise requires, in this chapter:

     "Agent" includes an attorney-in-fact under a durable or nondurable power of attorney, an individual authorized to make decisions concerning another's health care, and an individual authorized to make decisions for another under a natural death act.

     "Application" means a written request to the registrar for an order of informal probate or appointment under part 3 of article III.

     "Beneficiary", as it relates to a trust beneficiary, includes a person who has any present or future interest, vested or contingent, and also includes the owner of an interest by assignment or other transfer; as it relates to a charitable trust, includes any person entitled to enforce the trust; as it relates to a "beneficiary of a beneficiary designation", refers to a beneficiary of an insurance or annuity policy, of an account with POD designation, of a security registered in beneficiary form (TOD), or of a pension, profit-sharing, retirement, or similar benefit plan, or other nonprobate transfer at death; and, as it relates to a "beneficiary designated in a governing instrument", includes a grantee of a deed, a devisee, a trust beneficiary, a beneficiary of a beneficiary designation, a donee, appointee, or taker in default of a power of appointment, or a person in whose favor a power of attorney or a power held in any individual, fiduciary, or representative capacity is exercised.

     "Beneficiary designation" refers to a governing instrument naming a beneficiary of an insurance or annuity policy, of an account with POD designation, of a security registered in beneficiary form (TOD), or of a pension, profit-sharing, retirement, or similar benefit plan, or other nonprobate transfer at death.

     "Child" includes an individual entitled to take as a child under this chapter by intestate succession from the parent whose relationship is involved and excludes a person who is only a stepchild, a foster child, a grandchild, or any more remote descendant.

     "Claims", in respect to estates of decedents and protected persons, includes liabilities of the decedent or protected person, whether arising in contract, in tort, or otherwise, and liabilities of the estate which arise at or after the death of the decedent or after the appointment of a conservator, including funeral expenses and expenses of administration.  The term does not include estate or inheritance taxes, or demands or disputes regarding title of a decedent or protected  person to specific assets alleged to be included in the estate.

     "Court" means the circuit court in this State having jurisdiction in matters relating to the affairs of decedents.

     "Conservator" shall have the meaning provided in section 560:5-102.

     "Descendant" of an individual means all of the individual's descendants of all generations, with the relationship of parent and child at each generation being determined by the definition of child and parent contained in this chapter.

     "Devise", when used as a noun, means a testamentary disposition of real or personal property and, when used as a verb, means to dispose of real or personal property by will.

     "Devisee" means a person designated in a will to receive a devise.  For the purposes of article II, in the case of a devise to an existing trust or trustee, or to a trustee on trust described by will, the trust or trustee is the devisee and the beneficiaries are not devisees.

     "Distributee" means any person who has received property of a decedent from the decedent's personal representative other than as a creditor or purchaser.  A testamentary trustee is a distributee only to the extent of distributed assets or increment thereto remaining in the trustee's hands.  A beneficiary of a testamentary trust to whom the trustee has distributed property received from a personal representative is a distributee of the personal representative.  For the purposes of this provision, "testamentary trustee" includes a trustee to whom assets are transferred by will, to the extent of the devised assets.

     "Estate" includes the property of the decedent, trust, or other person whose affairs are subject to this chapter as originally constituted and as it exists from time to time during administration.

     "Exempt property" means that property of a decedent's estate which is described in section 560:2-403.

     "Fiduciary" includes a personal representative, guardian, conservator, and trustee.

     "Foreign personal representative" means a personal representative appointed by another jurisdiction.

     "Formal proceedings" means proceedings conducted before a judge with notice to interested persons.

     "Governing instrument" means a deed, will, trust, insurance or annuity policy, account with POD designation, security registered in beneficiary form (TOD), pension, profit-sharing, retirement, or similar benefit plan, instrument creating or exercising a power of appointment or a power of attorney, or a dispositive, appointive, or nominative instrument of any similar type.

     "Guardian" shall have the meaning provided in section 560:5-102.

     "Heirs", except as controlled by section 560:2-711, means persons, including the surviving spouse or reciprocal beneficiary and the State, who are entitled under the statutes of intestate succession to the property of a decedent.

     "Incapacitated person" shall have the meaning provided in section 560:5-102.

     "Informal proceedings" means those conducted without notice to interested persons by an officer of the court acting as a registrar for probate of a will or appointment of a personal representative.

     "Interested person" includes heirs, devisees, children, spouses or reciprocal beneficiaries, creditors, beneficiaries, and any others having a property right in or claim against a trust estate or the estate of a decedent, ward, or protected person.  It also includes persons having priority for appointment as personal representative, and other fiduciaries representing interested persons.  The meaning as it relates to particular persons may vary from time to time and must be determined according to the particular purposes of, and matter involved in, any proceeding.

     "Issue" of a person means descendant as defined in this section.

     "Joint tenants with the right of survivorship" and "community property with the right of survivorship" includes tenancies by the entirety and co-ownership of property held under circumstances that entitle one or more owners to the whole of the property on the death of the other or others, but excludes forms of co-ownership registration in which the underlying ownership of each party is in proportion to that party's contribution.

     "Lease" includes an oil, gas, or other mineral lease.

     "Letters" includes letters testamentary, letters of  guardianship, letters of administration, and letters of conservatorship.  Unless otherwise provided by order of the court or registrar, letters testamentary and letters of administration shall only be effective for three years unless renewed for good cause, and such limitation shall be stated on the face of the letters.

     "Minor" shall have the meaning provided in section 560:5-102.

     "Mortgage" means any conveyance, agreement, or arrangement in which property is encumbered or used as security.

     "Nonresident decedent" means a decedent who was domiciled in another jurisdiction at the time of decedent's death.

     "Organization" means a corporation, business trust, estate, trust, partnership, joint venture, association, government or governmental subdivision or agency, or any other legal or commercial entity.

     "Parent" includes any person entitled to take, or who would be entitled to take if the child died without a will, as a parent under this chapter by intestate succession from the child whose relationship is in question and excludes any person who is only a stepparent, foster parent, or grandparent.

     "Payor" means a trustee, insurer, business entity, employer, government, governmental agency or subdivision, or any other person authorized or obligated by law or a governing instrument to make payments.

     "Person" means an individual or an organization.

     "Personal representative" includes executor, administrator, successor personal representative, special administrator, and persons who perform substantially the same function under the law governing their status.  "General personal representative" excludes special administrator.

     "Petition" means a written request to the court for an order after notice.

     "Proceeding" includes action at law and suit in equity.

     "Property" includes both real and personal property or any interest therein and means anything that may be the subject of ownership.

     "Protected person" shall have the meaning provided in section 560:5-102.

     "Protective proceeding" means a proceeding held pursuant to part 4 of article V.

     "Registrar" refers to the official of the court designated to perform the functions of registrar as provided in section 560:1-307.

     "Security" includes any note, stock, treasury stock, bond, debenture, evidence of indebtedness, certificate of interest or participation in an oil, gas, or mining title or lease or in payments out of production under such a title or lease, collateral trust certificate, transferable share, voting trust certificate or, in general, any interest or instrument commonly known as a security, or any certificate of interest or participation, any temporary or interim certificate, receipt, or certificate of deposit for, or any warrant or right to subscribe to or purchase, any of the foregoing.

     "Settlement", in reference to a decedent's estate, includes the full process of administration, distribution, and closing.

     "Special administrator" means a personal representative as described by sections 560:3-614 through 560:3-618.

     "State" means a state of the United States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, or any territory or insular possession subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.

     "Successor personal representative" means a personal representative, other than a special administrator, who is appointed to succeed a previously appointed personal representative.

     "Successors" means persons, other than creditors, who are entitled to property of a decedent under the decedent's will or this chapter.

     "Supervised administration" refers to the proceedings  described in article III, part 5.

     "Survive" means that an individual has neither predeceased an event, including the death of another individual, nor is deemed to have predeceased an event under section 560:2-104 or 560:2-702.  The term includes its derivatives, such as "survives", "survived", "survivor", "surviving".

     "Testacy proceeding" means a proceeding to establish a will or determine intestacy.

     "Testator" includes an individual of either sex.

     "Trust" includes an express trust, private or charitable, with additions thereto, wherever and however created.  The term also includes a trust created or determined by judgment or decree under which the trust is to be administered in the manner of an express trust.  The term excludes other constructive trusts and excludes resulting trusts, conservatorships, personal representatives, trust accounts as defined in article VI, custodial arrangements pursuant to chapters 553A and 554B, business trusts providing for certificates to be issued to beneficiaries, common trust funds, voting trusts, security arrangements, liquidation trusts, and trusts for the primary purpose of paying debts, dividends, interest, salaries, wages, profits, pensions, or employee benefits of any kind, and any arrangement under which a person is nominee or escrowee for another.

     "Trustee" includes an original, additional, or successor trustee, whether or not appointed or confirmed by court.

     "Ward" shall have the meaning provided in section 560:5-102.

     "Will" includes codicil and any testamentary instrument that merely appoints an executor, revokes or revises another will, nominates a guardian, or expressly excludes or limits the right of an individual or class to succeed to property of the decedent passing by intestate succession. [L 1996, c 288, pt of §1; am L 1997, c 383, §19; am L 2004, c 161, §25]

 

Case Notes

 

  Appellant was not an "interested person", as defined in this section, who could petition the court under §560:3-614 for appointment as special administrator where appellant had no familial relationship to decedent's family, did not have a property right or claim against decedent's estate, and did not have priority under §560:3-203 to be appointed as personal representative of decedent's estate; circuit court thus properly denied appellant's petition.  88 H. 148, 963 P.2d 1124 (1998).

  The term "interested person" as defined in this section does not include a party interested solely in challenging a closure order in a probate proceeding; where appellants did not "possess an interest in the estate itself" nor were trustees, heirs, devisees, children, spouses or reciprocal beneficiaries, creditors, or beneficiaries, trial court correctly denied appellant media's petition to intervene as "interested persons".  106 H. 453, 106 P.3d 1096 (2005).

  Current income beneficiary of trust lacked standing to participate in matter concerning the distribution of the corpus upon termination of the trust where income beneficiary did not have any interest in the estate that would be affected by the particular probate proceeding inasmuch as income beneficiary was merely a measuring life and not a residuary beneficiary, and income beneficiary's interest was not a property right in or claim against the estate.  109 H. 502, 128 P.3d 815 (2006).

 

 

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