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Getting Comfortable With Estate Planning Terminology
- August 15th, 2006
Some people feel uncomfortable meeting with an attorney to discuss their estate planning needs because of an unfamiliarity with the law. A good lawyer will discuss your available options in simple terms that a person with no legal training can comprehend.
You can also relieve some of that hesitancy by familiarizing yourself with legal terminology before meeting with a qualified estate planning attorney to discuss the appropriate choices for you. The following is a short list of common legal terms that may come up in an estate planning meeting. Take just a few minutes to familiarize yourself with this list and keep it handy for future reference.
Attorney-in-Fact: A person who is named under a Power of Attorney to act on behalf of another person.
Beneficiary: A person or entity that receives a benefit from an estate, trust or asset transfer vehicle.
Death Probate: The legal process used to assemble and transfer a decedent's assets to the intended beneficiaries and settle a decedent''s outstanding debts.
Decedent: A person who has passed away.
Donee: A person or entity who receives a gifted asset from a donor.
Donor: A person or entity who gifts an asset to another person or entity.
Estate: All the assets owned by a decedent upon his or her death.
Executor/Personal Representative: The person responsible for settling a decedent's estate.
Grantor: A person who transfers an asset to another person or entity.
Guardian of the Person: A court-appointed supervisor in charge of the care of a minor or incompetent person''s physical well-being.
Guardian of the Estate: A court-appointed supervisor in charge of the care of a minor or incompetent person's financial well-being.
Irrevocable Trust: A trust in which the trustor has not reserved the right to revoke and cannot change the wording in the trust.
Living Trust: A trust established and operating during the trustor's lifetime.
Revocable Trust: A trust in which the trustor reserves the right to revoke.
Testator: The creator of a will.
Trust: A legal arrangement created to facilitate the transfer of property to a trustee for the benefit of a beneficiary.
Trustee: A person or entity named in a trust agreement to be responsible for holding and administering the trust assets according to the terms of the trust.
Trustor: A person who creates a trust. (Also sometimes called a "grantor" or "settlor.")
Will: A legal document used to transfer assets upon a decedent''s death.
Attorneys Judith Sterling and Michelle Tucker are partners in the Honolulu, Hawaii, law firm of Sterling & Tucker. To visit the firm''s ElderLawAnswers home page, click here.
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Law Offices of John L. Laster
John Laster is a lawyer licensed to practice in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia. He limits his practice to wealth transfer planning, trusts, wills, powers of attorney, health care decision-making issues, estate administration and related tax, elder law and disability concerns. Listed in The Best Lawyers...
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