Estate Planning Terminology
Hi there. My name is Bridget Mackay. I’m an estate planning attorney here in Petaluma, California. I practice in the areas of wills, trusts, probate, trust administration. Today I want to talk a little bit about estate planning terms everyone should know. Although it’s not the most joyous type of planning you can do, you’re not planning a vacation or something fun, everyone at some point needs to set up an estate plan to guarantee security for their loved ones. T do so, people often meet with a qualified estate planning attorney and that will ensure that they are informed about the choices they need to make and relieve some of the stress they have around not having a plan. Before you go see this qualified estate planning attorney, here is a crash course on the lingo, so you aren’t feeling intimidated in the meeting.
The first is trustor. That is the person who creates the trust. If it’s you going to the office, you are gonna be the trustor. The next term I want you to know is trustee. That’s the person in charge of the assets that you, of the trust you created. Often times that would be you, ’cause often times when people create their trust, they’re both the trustor and the trustee initially. The third term is testator. These are all sort of similar, so you might wanna write them down. Testator is a person who creates a will, which is different than a trust. Then there is an executor, and that is the person, like the trustee is in a trust, who is responsible for settling a person’s will. Those four terms are associated. Trustor and trustee are associated with a trust. Testator and executor are associated with a will. Finally, there is also a living trust, and that is a legal document through which a trustee holds property. It includes a set of instructions from the trustor and provides protection from probate, okay?
Decedent, this is a person who’s passed away or died. Beneficiary, this is a person or organization who receives assets from a will or a trust. Estate is all the assets that are owned by a decedent when he or she dies. Funding, this term is the process of transferring assets you own as an individual into the name of a trust you’ve created. And then two other terms are also names for documents that you might hear in your discussion with your attorney, one is a durable power of attorney and that is a document that designates a person to manage your assets or property when you can’t. The other is an advanced health care directive, and that’s a document that designates a person to make decisions about your health when you’re not able to make those decisions.
Those are a few terms that if you remember them and become familiar with them, you’re gonna feel a little more comfortable in your appointment with your estate planning attorney as you’re planning your estate. Always consult a qualified estate planning attorney when you go to create a will or a trust, and good luck.