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The A to Zs of estate planning

On Behalf of | Nov 8, 2019 | Estate Planning |

Those who have recently begun the estate planning process are have been brought into it by a family member may be confused about the legal jargon surrounding it.

To clear up the confusion you may be experiencing, here is a glossary of common estate planning terms you will likely come across.

Administration and administrator

The process through which the executor or personal representative rounds up assets, pays off debts and claim, and any remaining property according to the will, or by state law if there is no will. An administrator is a person the court appoints to carry this out if the decedent did not name anyone in the will, or if the person they named is unwilling or unable to serve.


Someone who will receive property or assets from an estate or trust.


Someone appointed by the court who is responsible for managing the property of someone who cannot do it for themselves.


A person who has passed away.


Someone named in a will to carry out the decedent’s wishes in their will and administer their estate.


A person who creates or contributes property to a trust.


A person, bank, or trust company court-appointed to act for a minor or someone who cannot do it themselves. A guardian has the power to make personal decisions for the minor or incapacitated person.

Health care power of attorney

A document that names a person who can make medical decisions for when the grantor cannot do it themselves. It can also be called a “health care proxy.”

Living trust

A trust that a grantor creates while they are still alive.  The grantor reserves the right to change or terminate the trust at their discretion.

Personal representative

Another term for executor or administrator.

Power of attorney

A document that says that an individual can act in another’s place for some legal and financial matters.


The in-court process of proving that a will is valid and distributing the property listed.


Anything someone owns that they can transfer to another person.

Special needs trust

A trust that is created for a disabled person that makes them eligible for government assistance.


A person who signs a will.

Trust and trustee

An arrangement in which property is owned and managed by someone for the benefit of another person. A trustee is a person who owns and manages the property.


A document that designates who will inherit the testator’s property and assets, and names the person responsible for administering the estate and distributing assets.

Hopefully, this list helps you better understand common estate planning terms and how the process works. An estate planning attorney can also be a great resource to help you understand the process and guide you through it.