Planning your estate or dealing with an estate of a loved one after they have passed could have your head swimming with “legal terminology”. We at, Perry Law Office, understand that this process can be daunting and sometimes flat out confusing. Some of these terms and phrases may be familiar to you, while others may be completely foreign. Here are few key terms that you may come across:
Administration: The process of opening an estate with the court and distributing assets.
Assets: Anything that is owned! Property, vehicles, cash, bank accounts, jewelry, antiques are all assets.
Beneficiaries: Person(s), organization or charity that will receive the assets of the deceased
Creditors: Anyone the decedent owed money
Deceased or Decedent: Person who has passed away
Durable Power of Attorney- also known as a POA or power of attorney, a document that gives someone else the power to act on your behalf to make certain financial decisions or it can also appoint a Health Care Representative to make medical decisions on your behalf when you are unable to.
Estate: Everything left by an individual at their death, including assets and debts
Executor: The person(s) named to wrap up a decedent’s affairs and distribute the assets. Commonly known as Personal Representative in Indiana
Fiduciary: Person having the legal duty to act primarily for another’s benefit. Implies great confidence and trust, and a high degree of good faith. Usually associated with a trustee, but
personal representatives also have the legal duty to properly administer the estate.
Grantor: The person who sets up or creates the trust. The person whose trust it is. Also called creator, settlor, trustor, donor or trustmaker.
Irrevocable Trust: A trust that cannot be changed (revoked) or cancelled once it is set up. Opposite of revocable trust.
Intestate: passing without a Will. State laws will determine how the assets are distributed, not the wishes of the deceased.
Living Trust: A written legal document that creates an entity to which you transfer ownership of your assets. Contains your instructions for managing your assets during your lifetime and for
their distribution upon your incapacity or death. Avoids probate at death and court control of assets at incapacity. Also called a revocable inter vivos trust. A trust created during one’s lifetime.
Living Will: A written document that states you intentions to have life prolonging measures taken or your wish not to be kept alive by artificial means when the illness or injury is terminal. The name is a bit misleading as it has nothing to do with your Last Will and Testament.
Per Capita: A way of distributing your estate so that your surviving descendants will share equally, regardless of their generation. I.e. there are four siblings that were to share equally in quarters, one sibling passes and now the three surviving siblings share in thirds.
Per Stirpes: A way of distributing your estate so that your descendants and their heirs share the pre-deceased descendants portion of the estate. If one of your beneficiaries passes before you, then their children would take their share. I.e. there are four siblings that were to share equally in quarters, one sibling passes, and the sibling that passes has two children. The three siblings still each get a quarter, and the two children share the last quarter. Good way to give something to grandchildren if their parent’s have passed.
Personal Property: Includes items that can be moved, like clothing, jewelry, money, and vehicles. (for land or real estate see Real Property)
Personal Representative: The person(s) named to wrap up deceased’s affairs and distribute the assets. You may have heard this called an executor or administrator.
Power of attorney: A document you sign giving authority for someone else to act on your behalf. Could be financial, healthcare, or even for a limited purpose such as purchasing property for you in your absence. To survive incapacity you must have a Durable Power of Attorney.
Probate: The legal process of validating a Will with the court and wrapping up affairs of the deceased.
Real Property: Land, houses/homes, or other buildings
Revocable Trust: A trust set up in which the person setting it up can change or cancel it. This is a good way to avoid probate.
Testate: Person who dies with a Will
Trust: An entity that holds assets for the benefit of certain other persons or entities.
Will: A written document providing instructions for distributing your assets and estate. You can make it vague/simple (equally to my children) or as detailed as you like (gun collection to my son Jim, my 1965 Chevy Camera to my daughter Sarah, etc). This is also called Last Will and Testament.
Let the attorneys at Perry Law Office, help you through this maze of legal terminology and confusion. We are here to help. Give us a call at 260-483-3110 and ask to speak with one of our knowledgeable attorneys today. As always, there is a free consultation.