Estate planning glossary
To help you better understand what you’re planning for, we created a dictionary of terms and definitions most commonly used by estate planning professionals.
Advance Healthcare Directive
Grants your health care agent the ability to make decisions on your behalf if you are unable to and contains your wishes about medical care, treatment, and the disposition of your remains.
Asset Transfer Letter
To be shared with financial institutions in order to assist in transferring assets to the name of your newly created Trust.
Agent designated by your Power of Attorney document to make decisions for you about your non-trust assets in the event you become incapacitated.
Charitable Lead Trust
An irrevocable trust designed to provide financial support to one or more charities for a period of time with the remaining assets eventually going to family members or other beneficiaries.
Charitable Remainder Trust
Provides a stream of income for family members for the term of the trust before the remaining assets are transferred to one or more charitable organization beneficiaries.
Community Property State
States where all assets acquired during a marriage are owned equally by both spouses.
Appointed to supervise the finances of an individual who is found by the court to be incapable of doing so himself or herself.
Any party that has delivered a product, service or loan, and is owed money by one or more people.
A method by which a trustee may remove or modify trust provisions from an irrevocable trust by pouring/distributing the trust assets from an old trust into a new trust.
Divisible Pot Trust
A single irrevocable trust for all beneficiaries where distributions can be made to any beneficiary at the trustee’s discretion as opposed to separate trusts for each beneficiary.
Everything comprising the net worth of an individual; including all land and real estate, possessions, financial securities, cash, and other assets that the individual owns or has a controlling interest in.
Estate & Gift Tax Exemption
Under the current administration, an individual can leave up to $11.58M to heirs without incurring federal estate tax, a married couple can leave up to $23.16M.
The management of how assets will be transferred to beneficiaries when an individual passes away.
May be levied by the government on the value of one’s estate at death to be paid by the deceased person’s representatives prior to any property being distributed to the intended beneficiaries.
Responsible for taking the financial actions needed to settle your estate outside of your Trust under the terms of your Will after you die.
General Assignment of Assets
A document commonly included in California estate plans that establishes the intent for all property, including property without an official title document, to be in the Trust.
May be levied by the government on the value of a gift made prior to death to be paid by the beneficiary. Giving a gift may reduce the amount of estate tax exemption available upon death.
A person or institution that conveys ownership of a property or creates a trust; a.k.a. creator/settlor/trustor.
Responsible for taking care of your children in the event that you die while they’re still minors.
Health Care Agent
Designated by your Advance Health Care Directive to help make medical decisions on your behalf at the end of life or any other time you are not able to communicate.
Your closest relatives that are then living at the time of your death.
Handwritten and testator-signed document recognized in some states that is an alternative to a will produced by a lawyer.
A legal provision that protects a person’s residence from non-mortgage creditors (including taxing authorities to some degree).
Assets that an individual bequeaths to his or her loved ones after he or she passes away
State taxes that may be levied on inherited assets.
Cannot be modified during the Trustor’s lifetime without the permission of the beneficiaries.
Inter Vivos Trust
Created during your lifetime and put in place to manage your assets during life and after death to avoid probate upon your death; a.k.a. living trust/revocable trust.
Letter of Wishes
Can be used in tandem with your Trust document to provide additional guidance to the trustee regarding how the assets should be controlled and distributed.
Created during your lifetime and put in place to manage your assets during life and to avoid probate upon your death; a.k.a. inter vivos trust/revocable trust.
Type of advance health care directive which tells your health care provider what types of treatment you want or don’t want should you become incapacitated.
Distributions of trust income or principal according to a schedule set by the trust document regardless of the beneficiaries’ needs, tax situation, or credit situation.
Irrevocable trust made up of 50% of shared assets and 100% of any separate assets owned by the first spouse to die.
Medical Authorization of Minor Children
Grants another adult authority to make medical decisions for your minor children in the event of an emergency.
Marital agreement executed during marriage to determine the division of a couple’s assets in a divorce or after the death of one spouse.
“Pours” assets into your Trust at your death.
Power of Attorney
Designates an “Attorney-in-Fact” or agent who can make decisions for you about your non-trust assets in the event you become incapacitated.
Marital agreement executed prior to marriage to determine the division of a couple’s assets in a divorce or after the death of one spouse.
The legal process of administering a person’s estate after their death; may be avoided if the deceased person properly maintained a trust holding their assets.
Court costs to be paid by beneficiaries out of estate assets
A document showing that you legally own property; must be filed with the appropriate county government office in order to be official.
Created during your lifetime and put in place to manage your assets during life and after death to avoid probate upon your death; a.k.a. inter vivos trust/living trust.
A person or institution that conveys ownership of a property or creates a trust; a.k.a. creator/grantor/trustor.
Single Settlor Trust
Created and funded by one person as opposed to a joint trust.
The place to which, for purposes of legal jurisdiction or taxation, a property or Trust belongs
Tangible Personal Property Memo
A letter outlining your wishes in regards to how to dispose of your tangible personal property (e.g., art, jewelry, household goods) as specific gifts to named beneficiaries.
A trust created in a will that goes into effect after the death of the individual as opposed to a living trust.
An arrangement for owning property where possession of the property is held by one person or organization, but the right to benefit from the property belongs to another.
A short document used instead of the full Trust document to provide third parties with assurances that the trustees have the power to buy, sell, borrow, or conduct financial transactions in the name of the Trust.
Person or group (not the settlor, beneficiary, or trustee) appointed to exercise powers affecting a trust and the interest of the beneficiaries to protect beneficiaries from a rogue trustee.
A person or organization who holds the possession of property in a Trust arrangement. Trustees are responsible to act in the best interest of the Trust’s beneficiaries.
A person or institution that conveys ownership of a property or creates a trust; a.k.a. creator/grantor/settlor.
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