“Beneficiary" is a generic term for someone named in a will or trust to receive property. In a trust, a beneficiary may either have a present or future interest.

Alternate or Contingent Beneficiary

An alternate beneficiary is a term used for the individual who is usually named in a will in the event that a person who is the named beneficiary refuses, disclaims or is unable to accept the inheritance.


A written addition or amendment to a will.

Last Will and Testament 

An instrument whereby one makes a disposition of his property to take effect after his death. 

Living Trust

A living trust is a legal entity created to hold ownership of an individual's assets. The person who forms the trust is called the grantor, and in most cases, also serves as the trustee, controlling and managing the assets placed there. The grantor, retains control of the trust and can modify or terminate the trust at any time. 

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. 


Probate is the legal process through which a deceased person's estate is properly distributed to heirs and designated beneficiaries and any debt owed to creditors is paid off. In general, probate property is distributed according to the decedent's if there is one, or according to state law if no will exists. 

Successor Trustee?

A successor trustee is the person who assumes control of the trust after the initial trustee dies or becomes unable to continue with his or her responsibilities. Once the successor trustee has assumed control, he or she is responsible to ensure that your property is distributed to your beneficiaries according to the trust terms. Ideally, a successor trustee will be someone you know and trust. A successor trustee does not have any duties until the grantor can no longer perform his duties.

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