Estate Planning and Administration Definitions

Attorney-in-Fact – A person who holds a power of attorney over another. An agent designated to transact business, financial powers and contracting powers of behalf of another.

Beneficiary – A person who benefits, or who will benefit, from an action or direction of another.

Codicil – An amendment, change, revision, supplement or addition to an existing will.

Conservator – The individual responsible for taking care of a minor child or incapacitated adult’s finances and assets.

Creditor – A person to whom a debt is owed.

Decedent – A person who has died.

Descendant – A person who descended from another and is in the line of descent from an ancestor. A descendant is generally blood related, although can be adopted.

Devisee – The person who is named to receive real or personal property through the direction of a will. In a trust, a devisee is referred to as a beneficiary.

Estate – The totality of real and personal property left by a decedent at his or her death, including assets and liabilities.

Executor – See Personal Representative

General Power of Attorney – A document through which you appoint another person to make financial decisions and to act on your behalf in contracting and day-to-day matters.

Grantor – The creator of a trust. Also known as the Settlor.

Guardian – The individual responsible for the physical well-being and care of a minor child or incapacitated adult.

Heir – A person who inherits or who is designated to receive real or personal property.

Intestate – Dying without a valid will. Also referred to as intestacy.

Medical Power of Attorney – A document through which you appoint another person to make medical decisions on your behalf when and if you are unable to communicate your medical wishes yourself. This document is also sometimes referred to as a medical directive.

Patient Advocate – A person designated under a Medial Power of Attorney to make medical decisions on your behalf.

Power of Attorney – A document through which you appoint another person to make decisions and act on your behalf. Can be general or limited in nature. Can be immediately effective or springing upon a later event. Two main types include general power of attorney (financial/contracting) and medical power of attorney.

Personal Representative – The person in charge of handling your affairs after you die. Also referred to as a “PR.” The personal representative’s primary responsibilities are to collect your assets, pay your creditors, and distribute your property to whomever you indicate in your will. The personal representative should be a person capable of keeping accurate records and who has a basic level of financial knowledge.

Probate – The administering of a decedent’s estate through the probate court system. Facilitated by the personal representative, probate includes the collection of real and personal property assets belonging to the estate, payment of debts owed by the decedent, and distribution of estate assets to heirs. Can also include litigation of claims and disputes concerning the validity of estate documentation, creditors and heirs.

Probate Court – A court having power to oversee the probate of wills, administering of estates and appointment of guardians and conservators.

Settlor – See Grantor

Successor – A person that follows or takes the place of another.

Trust – A legal entity created by a grantor for the benefit of names beneficiaries, the assets of which are held under the control of a trustee.

Trustee – The person responsible for holding and disbursing of trust assets.

Will – A written document through which a person directs the disposition of his or her real and personal property after his or her death. This document remains revocable and amenable during the creator’s lifetime and only become effective upon his or her death.

*The above definitions are general definitions only. More specific definitions may exist in statute or case precedent.