Estate Planning Glossary

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Estate & Probate: Glossary

Testator
A male who makes a will.
Testatrix
A female who makes a will.
Personal representative
The person or corporation appointed by the probate court to take charge of the decedent’s property during the probate process. The personal representative is responsible for gathering together the assets of the estate, paying the decedent’s bills, filing tax returns and making ultimate distribution to the beneficiaries of the estate.
Administrator
A male appointed by the probate court to serve as personal representative.
Administratrix
A female appointed by the probate court to serve as personal representative.
Executor
A male named in the will to serve as personal representative.
Executrix
A female named in the will to serve as personal representative.
Will
A written instrument by which the testator/testatrix directs the disposition of his/her property and names the persons to receive such property. The will may also provide for the appointment of the executor/executrix; nomination of guardian for children; appointment of trustee to conserve property and to manage assets for the benefit of a child or other beneficiary. This type of trust is referred to as a testamentary trust.
Probate
The court process by which property of the decedent is distributed to those so entitled to such property. If the decedent has a will, the property would be distributed in accordance with the decedent’s wishes. If the decedent did not have a will, the decedent’s property will be distributed in accordance with the intestate succession rules of the state of residence of the decedent.
Intestate
One who dies without a valid will.
Living will
A document outlining medical instructions that apply while one is alive but unable to communicate. The living will is a statement that if one is terminally ill and will die within a short period of time, one’s health care providers are instructed not to take heroic means to preserve life. The living will may also allow one to make decisions regarding pain medication, hydration and nutrition.
Trust
A trust is a legal entity capable of owning property which allows the settlor to name a trustee to hold title to such property and provides how such trust property is to be managed and distributed.
Living trust:
A trust that is created during the settlor’s lifetime, as compared to a testamentary trust which is a trust created by will. A living trust may be revocable or irrevocable.
Beneficiary
A person or legal entity designated to benefit from ones’ estate. A beneficiary is legally entitled to his/her share of your (or one’s?) property after death.
Settlor
The person who creates a trust.
Power of attorney
A legal document wherein the person granting the power of attorney appoints another person to manage financial and legal matters for such person’s benefit.
Health care representative or healthcare power of attorney
A legal document wherein a person names another to make decisions pertaining to one’s healthcare.
Guardianship
A court proceeding where the court appoints an individual or entity to manage to affairs of an incapacitated person. A guardianship can be for both the person of the incapacitated person as well as such person’s assets. Typically, guardianships are established for minor children whose parents are deceased or for adults who are incapacitated due to age, illness or infirmity.