Don’t know what all the legal jargon means? Here is a quick guide to definitions.
Last Will & Testament
Revocable Living Trust
Powers of Attorney
Someone named in a legal document to inherit money or other property. Wills, trusts, and insurance policies commonly name beneficiaries; beneficiaries can also be named for “payable-on-death” accounts.
To leave property at one’s death; another word for “give.”
A gift of an item of personal property (that’s anything but real estate) made at death.
The person named in a will, and appointed by the probate court after the will-maker’s death, to wind up the affairs of a deceased person. In some states, executors are called “personal representatives.”
Gift and estate tax:
A tax imposed on very large transfers of property (during life or at death) by the federal government. Some states have their own estate taxes as well.
Someone who inherits property under state law if there’s no valid will.
Direct descendants, including children, grandchildren, and so on. A spouse, brothers, sisters, parents, and other relatives are not issue.
All movable property other than land and buildings.
Another name for the executor or administrator of an estate. Some states use this term (often abbreviated “PR”) instead of executor; some states use either.
A way of dividing property among the descendants of a deceased heir beneficiary.
Real estate—that is, land and things permanently attached to it, such as houses.
Residue or residuary estate:
All property subject to a will that isn’t given away specifically in the will. Often, a will leaves certain valuable items to named beneficiaries and then “the rest and residue of my estate” to another beneficiary.
A trust that the settlor can revoke at any time during his or her lifetime.
Right of representation:
A way of dividing property among the descendants of a deceased heir or beneficiary. The general idea is that the children of a deceased beneficiary inherit that person’s share—for example, if a father leaves property to his daughter, and at his death the daughter has already died, leaving two grandchildren, the grandchildren would take their mother’s share.
Someone who creates a trust.
Someone who takes over as trustee of a trust if the original trustee can no longer serve.
An act by which a person determines the disposition of his or her property after death.
Someone who has legal authority over the assets in a trust.