Estate Planning Terms

Beneficiary – One entitled to profit, benefit, or advantage from a contract or estate.

Codicil – A written addition or amendment to a will. 

Conservatorship – A formal proceeding in which the court appoints a conservator to act on behalf of another in business and or personal matters. 

Contingent Beneficiary – One entitled to profit from a contract or estate only upon the occurrence of a specific event, usually one who received assets at the death of the primary or lifetime beneficiary. 

Decedent – A deceased person. 

Descendants – Persons who follow decedent in line of descent. 

Estate – The assets and liabilities, real and personal property, left by a decedent. 

Estate Tax – Inheritance Tax. 

Execute – The act of signing and notarizing trust documents. 

Executor/Executrix – Person or institution named in a will to carry out the will’s instructions. 

Gift Tax – Tax levied on gifts of property, to supplement estate and inheritance tax. 

Grantor – One who creates a trust; the trustor, the settlor. 

Intervivos – “Between the living” or “while living”. 

Intestate – One who dies without a will. 

Issue - Lineal descendants. 

Joint Tenancy – A holding of property by several persons in such a way that any one of them can act as owner of the whole and take the property by survivorship. 

Last Will and Testament – An instrument whereby one makes a disposition of his property to take effect after his death. 

Life Interest/Life Estate – An interest in property which is to terminate upon the death of the holder (or some other designated person) of the interest. 

Living Will – A document which formally expresses your wish to forgo extraordinary medical treatment when you become terminally ill. 

Marital Deduction – Exempts from estate tax all property passing from one spouse to the other by reason of gift or death. 

Pour Over Will – Instrument which provided that property not previously transferred into a revocable living trust is to be transferred to the trust at the death of the Grantor. 

Powers of Appointment – Power vested in an individual to make decisions affecting disposition on distribution of assets. 

Power of Attorney – Formal instrument by which an agent is appointed to act on your behalf. 

Principle of Representation – Permits the descendants of a deceased beneficiary to receive the same share collectively that the deceased beneficiary would have taken if he had been living. 

Probate – The process of proving a will. 

Probate Court – Court established for the administration of the estates of decedents, and the control of the adoption and guardianship of minors. 

Revocable Trust – A trust in which a contingent interest is given to another and in which the Grantor retains a present interest, ownership, and control. 

Sprinkling Power – The power vested in a trustee to distribute income to others over time. 

Successor Trustee – Individual who succeeds to the power to manage trust assets. 

Trust – A right of property, real or personal, held by one party for the benefit of another. 

Trustee – One appointed to manage a trust. 

Unified Credit – The dollar amount an individual can transfer free of tax. The credit is $11.2 million per individual.  A married couple will be able to shield 22.4 million from taxation. (2018)

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