Areas of Law
Estate planning is the process of anticipating and arranging for the disposal of an estate during your life. Estate planning typically attempts to eliminate uncertainties over the administration of a probate and maximize the value of the estate by reducing taxes and other expenses. Guardians are often designated for minor children and beneficiaries in incapacity. It overlaps to some degree with elder law, which additionally includes other provisions such as long-term care.
In common law legal systems, a trust is a relationship whereby property (real or personal, tangible or intangible) is held by one party for the benefit of another. A trust conventionally arises when property is transferred by one party to be held by another party for the benefit of a third party, although it is also possible for a legal owner to create a trust of property without transferring it to anyone else, simply by declaring that the property will henceforth be held for the benefit of the beneficiary. A trust is created by a settlor, who transfers some or all of his property to a trustee, who holds that trust property (also called the principal or corpus) for the benefit of the beneficiaries.
Receipt of probate is the first step in the legal process of administering the estate of a deceased person, resolving all claims and distributing the deceased person's property under a will. A probate court (surrogate court) decides the legal validity of a testator's will and grants its approval by granting probate to the executor. The probated will becomes a legal document that may be enforced by the executor in the law-courts if necessary. A probate also officially appoints the executor (or personal representative), generally named in the will, as having legal power to dispose of the testator's assets in the manner specified in the will.
Conservatorship is a legal concept in the United States of America, where an entity or organization is subjected to the legal control of an external entity or organization, known as a conservator. Conservatorship is established either by court order (with regard to individuals) or via a statutory or regulatory authority (with regard to organizations). When referring to government control of private corporations such as Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae, conservatorship implies a more temporary control than does nationalization. In other legal terms, a conservatorship may refer to the legal responsibilities over a person who is mentally ill, including individuals who are psychotic, suicidal, incapacitated, or in some other way unable to make legal, medical or financial decisions on behalf of themselves.
A legal guardian is a person who has the legal authority (and the corresponding duty) to care for the personal and property interests of another person, called a ward. Usually, a person has the status of guardian because the ward is incapable of caring for his or her own interests due to infancy, incapacity, or disability. Most countries and states have laws that provide that the parents of a minor child are the legal guardians of that child, and that the parents can designate who shall become the child's legal guardian in the event of death.
A lawsuit or (very rarely) "suit in law" is a civil action brought in a court of law in which a plaintiff, a party who claims to have incurred loss as a result of a defendant's actions, demands a legal or equitable remedy. The defendant is required to respond to the plaintiff's complaint. If the plaintiff is successful, judgment is in the plaintiff's favor, and a variety of court orders may be issued to enforce a right, award damages, or impose a temporary or permanent injunction to prevent an act or compel an act. A declaratory judgment may be issued to prevent future legal disputes.
The conduct of a lawsuit is called litigation. One who has a tendency to litigate rather than seek non-judicial remedies is called litigious. The plaintiffs and defendants are called litigants and the attorneys representing them are called litigators.