What Do All These Estate Planning Terms Mean?

We get certain reoccurring questions from clients, and there appears to be a lot of confusion about the basic terms commonly used in estate planning. We thought maybe we could do a service by collecting some of the more common ones and defining them. Please feel free to suggest additional terms!

Will: A will is the document by which you declare who will receive your property, and who will be in charge of handling your estate.

Living Will: A living will defines what you want done to preserve your life. This does not distribute property. A living will is usually a standard form that can be signed and filled out. It can be replaced or combined with an Advanced Health Care Directive.

Personal representative: A personal representative, also referred to as an executor or administrator, is the person you put in charge of probating your estate. Your personal representative has no authority until you have died and your will has been admitted to probate.

Devisee: A devisee is a person named in your will and who will receive a distribution upon your death.
Heir: An heir is a person who will inherit from you when you die.

Intestate succession: Intestate succession is the set of rules governing inheritance when you die without a will.

Pourover Will: If any assets accidentally do not get put into your Trust before you die, a Pourover Will transfers those assets to your Trust.

Trust: A trust is a separate entity, providing who is to receive the benefit of your assets or income during your lifetime and upon your death, or upon the happening of specified events./p>

Testamentary trust:A testamentary trust is a trust created by a will. It will not exist until your estate has been probated, so it will not avoid probate.

Trustee: A trustee is the person who is in charge of a trust.

These are just a few very brief descriptions of some very complicated terms and documents. It is highly recommended that you seek the help of a qualified and experienced estate planning attorney to advise you on any of these matters. The Astill Law Office has provided high quality legal services for over 30 years. We specialize in wills, trusts, estate planning, and asset protection. If you have any questions about creating a Trust, Will, or estate planning in general, contact The Astill Law Office at 801-438-8698.