terms in estate planning

10 Important Terms in Estate Planning Vocabulary

If you are suffering the loss of a close loved one, in addition to the pain of loss, you may also need to navigate the nomenclature and processes associated with managing the affairs of the person who has passed away.  It is best not to attempt to go through this process alone.  It is highly recommended that family members go through the procedures with the help of an experienced estate planning attorney.

Even so, you may hear several unusual terms during this time.  It is important to learn the meanings of these terms as they can have an impact on your life and others in your family.

  1. Decedent

A decedent is a person who has died.

  1. Estate

The estate is the total property left behind of a person who has died.

  1. Will or Last Will and Testament

A will or testament is a legal document that expresses a person’s wishes as to how their estate is to be distributed or otherwise settled after their death and as to which person or entity is to manage their estate until its final distribution.

  1. Probate

Probate is the judicial process whereby a will is “proved” in a court of law and accepted as a valid public document that is the true last testament of the decedent, or whereby the estate is settled

  1. Intestator or Testator

An intestator is a person who is intestate, that is they have died without having written a will.  A testator is testate, a decedent that had written a will prior to their death.

  1. Trustee

A trustee is the administrator of a trust. A trust is a legal arrangement in which one or more trustees hold the legal title of the property for the benefit of the beneficiaries.

“Probate is the judicial process whereby a will is ‘proved’ in a court of law … or whereby the estate is settled.”

  1. Executor

The Executor is responsible for wrapping up the deceased person’s affairs and distributing the assets to, or for the benefit of, the persons named in the will (beneficiaries). The Executor is appointed in the testator’s will.

  1. Administrator

The administrator is the person in charge of the estate when someone dies without a Last Will and Testament.  Administrators are appointed by the court.

  1. Letters testamentary

A set of documents issued by a court or public official authorizing the executor of a will to take control of a deceased person’s estate.

  1. Springing or Durable Power of Attorney

In a springing power of attorney, the subject turns over their affairs to be managed by some other person or entity other than themselves in the case of death or incapacitation. Springing powers of attorney are thus named because they are said to “spring” into effect when an incapacitating event occurs to the subject. In a durable power of attorney, the subject immediately turns over their affairs to be managed by another person or entity.  Durable powers of attorney then continue to be in effect after the death or incapacitation of the subject.

The Importance of Choosing Your Legal Counsel

When moving a case through probate during the sensitive time after a loved one’s death, family members need a local attorney that can handle the nuances of estate planning law.  South Florida Law has big firm resources and small firm attention-to-detail and service.  We have the experience and local knowledge necessary to carry out the role of attorney during this sensitive time.  Is your family going through this difficult time in South Florida? Are you proactively planning your own estate to prevent hassles after you pass away?  Reach out to South Florida Law today on (954) 900-8885 or via our contact form.

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