Beneficiary: An individual or organization who receives property or wealth from a will or trust when the owner dies.
Common Disaster Clause: A clause in a Will that establishes what should happen if both devisees die in the same accident.
Decedent: The individual who died.
Devisee: An individual who receives property through a Will.
Durable Power of Attorney: This document allows the Agent to act if the individual becomes incapacitated.
Estate Planning: The process that allows an individual to plan lifetime goals and objectives through a Will, power of attorney, a living will or healthcare proxy, and sometimes a trust.
Estate Tax: This is the tax imposed on the taxable estate of an individual when he/she dies.
Executor: The person or organization who is responsible for carrying out the Will.
Fiduciary: An individual or organization assigned to manage the estate.
Healthcare directive: The instructions given by an individual regarding what should happen if the individual becomes incapacitated. (This often includes appointing an Agent to act on one’s behalf.)
Healthcare proxy: This is also known as a living Will. The document that appoints an Agent to act on an individual’s behalf if he/she becomes incapacitated.
Intestate: Dying without a legal Will.
Irrevocable Trust: A trust that cannot be changed or altered after it is implemented.
Litigation: The process that accompanies a lawsuit.
Living Will: This is also known as a healthcare proxy. The document that appoints an agent to act on an individual’s behalf if he/she becomes incapacitated.
Non-Probate Property: This includes anything that did not go through the probate process, and includes specific types of property. (See Non-Probate Property.)
Pay on Death (POD): This is a type of property that transfers directly to the beneficiary, without passing through probate.
Per stirpes: This is a way of dividing up an estate in which it is divided equally for each branch of the family. (“Per stirpes” means “per branch” in Latin.)
Probate: The process that validates the Will and assesses the decedent’s debts and property.
Revocable Trust: A trust that may be changed or altered during the trustor’s lifetime.
Spendthrift Trust: A trust overseen by a trustee for an individual that may be considered irresponsible with his/her spending.
Trust: A document that gives fiduciary control of property to an individual or organization.
Will: A document that designates where and to whom property and wealth are directed at the time of death. This is also called a Testament.