Estate Planning has its own vocabulary. To help you speak the language, we've created a glossary of the more commonly used words and phrases. This glossary is comprised of 26 individual pages, one for each letter of the alphabet. To find a particular word or phrase that starts with the letter "U" - simply scroll down the list below. If your word or phrase starts with another letter, please use the alphabet index below.
The letters "u/a" stand for "under agreement." The letters u/a are typically used when describing or naming a trust that has been created under a trust agreement; i.e., "John B. Doe Living Trust, u/a, dated _________." Trusts are created under a trust agreement whenever there are one or more trustees other than the grantor. See "u/d/t" below.
The letters "u/d/t" stand for "under declaration of trust." The letters u/d/t are typically used when describing or naming a trust created under a declaration of trust; i.e., "John B. Doe Living Trust, u/d/t, dated _________." Trusts are created under a declaration of trust whenever the grantor is also the sole trustee. See "u/a" above.
The term "unified credit" refers to a single credit that can be used against federal gift taxes that are incurred during one's lifetime or against federal estate taxes that are incurred upon one's death. Every person is entitled to the unified credit upon birth and every person can use all or any part of that credit during his or her lifetime to offset any federal gift taxes that might be incurred from year to year. Upon death, any unified credit that remains is available to offset any federal estate taxes levied at that time.
For 2011, the amount of the unified credit against gift and estate taxes is $1,730,800. Although the amount of the unified credit against gift taxes will remain the same through 2012, the amount of the unified credit against estate taxes will decrease to an estimated $1,455,800 in 2013. For the amount of the unified credit in past years and the equivalent amount of property exempt from federal gift and estate taxes as a result of the unified credit, see "applicable exclusion amount."
Uniform Probate Code
Although all states have enacted laws governing the probate process, including the distribution of property upon an owner’s death, each state has retained its autonomy to a large degree over the years. As a result, there are often vast differences in the probate process, including probate procedures, from state to state. Following an eight-year collaborative effort by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws (ULC) and the Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section of the American Bar Association (ABA Section), a Uniform Probate Code (UPC 1969) was adopted in 1969, which became a model probate code for consideration by all states. The aim was to make probate laws more uniform among the states and to promote a speedy and efficient system for estate administration. The 1969 UPC was adopted by 18 states and accepted in part by all but a few of the remaining states. In 1991, a revised Uniform Probate Code was enacted (UPC 1991), which continues to find growing support among the states. See The National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State laws. For a list of states that have adopted the Uniform Probate Code, see Legal Information Institute, Cornell Law School.
Uniform Prudent Investor Act
The "Uniform Prudent Investor Act" is a comprehensive model for the codification of trust investment laws, as adopted by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws in 1994. At stated in the Prefatory Note, "the Uniform Prudent Investor Act (UPIA) undertakes to update trust investment law in recognition of the alterations that have occurred in investment practice. These changes have occurred under the influence of a large and broadly accepted body of empirical and theoretical knowledge about the behavior of capital markets, often described as "modern portfolio theory. The Uniform Prudent Investor Act is a further refinement to the standards for prudent trust investment, as promulgated by the American Law Institute in its Restatement of Trusts 3d, which is also referred to as the "Prudent Investor Rule." See "Uniform Prudent Investor Act." For a list of states that have adopted the Uniform Prudent Investor Act, see the Financial Planning Association's web site. See also "Prudent Person Rule."
Uniform Trust Code
The "Uniform Trust Code" (UTC) is a comprehensive model for the codification of the law of trusts among the 50 states. The UTC was approved by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws ("NCCUSL") in 2000. Minor amendments to the Uniform Trust Code were made in 2001 and 2003. The UTC is model legislation that each state may consider enacting, in whole or in part; with the expectation that a uniform set of laws governing trusts will be established among all the states. As of December of 2004, the UTC has been adopted by 9 states and the District of Columbia, including Kansas, Maine, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Tennessee, Utah, and Wyoming. UTC bills are also pending in Pennsylvania and Massachusettes. See UTC Notes. See also "Uniform Trust Code."
The term "usufruct" is derived from the Latin words usus and fructus, which refer to "rights of use" and "fruit," respectively. The English word usufruct is derived from these Latin roots, and refers to the right of one person to use and enjoy the fruits of property that belong to someone else.
The right to "use and enjoy the fruits" of property are generally held to include the right to use the property, to rent the property, and to receive the income therefrom, even though the property is owned by someone else. The analogy often used is that of an apple tree, where the person who has a usufruct (called a "usufructuary") has the right to the apples even though the tree is owned by someone else. While the usufuctuary has the right to the apples, including the right to sell them and keep the money from the sale, the usufuctuary has a concurrent duty to take care of the underlying property to insure that it is not damaged or destroyed.
A usufruct over property can be created by contract, where an owner grants a usufruct over certain property for a pre-determined period of time. A usufruct can also be created by law, especially in favor of a surviving spouse over community property owned by a decedent, even though the children of the decedent may have inherited the property.
Louisiana's Civil Code, Art. 890, grants an automatic usufruct to a surviving spouse over a decedent's share of community property, unless the usufruct is voided by will. Thus, a surviving spouse in Louisiana has total use of a decedent's share of community property, even though the decedent may have given his or her share to the children or others under a will. Louisiana's usufruct terminates upon the remarriage or death of the surviving spouse unless otherwise provided by will. For Louisiana's intestacy laws, including the surviving spouse's usufruct over community property, please see Louisiana Intestacy Laws.
The term "usufructuary" refers to a person who has a usufruct over certain property. See "usufruct" above.