Glossary of Probate and Estate Planning Terms

  • Administration: The process of deciding where, how, and to whom to distribute the decedent’s property when there is no Will.
  • Beneficiary: The person is named in the Will to inherit the assets of an estate. 
  • Custodian of the Will: The person who has the Will when the person who wrote the Will dies.
  • CLT: Charitable Lead Trust.
  • CRT: Charitable Remainder Trust.
  • FLP: Family Limited Partnership
  • Decedent (or deceased): The person who died.
  • Decedent’s estate: All the property (real or personal) that a person owned at the time of death.
  • Executor: A person named in a Will and appointed by the Court to carry out the dead person’s wishes.
  • GPOA: General power of appointment.
  • GRAT: Grantor Retained Annuity Trust
  • GSTT: Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax
  • Heir: A person who inherits when there is no Will.
  • Intestate: When someone dies without leaving a Will.
  • Intestate succession: The order of who inherits the property when someone dies without a Will.
  • IRA: Individual Retirement Account
  • ILIT: Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust
  • Last Will and Testament: Another name for a  Will (See below).
  • Legatees, or devisees: People who are named in a Will.
  • Personal property: Things like cash, stocks, jewelry, clothing, furniture, or cars.
  • Personal representative (or administrator or executor): The person responsible for overseeing the distribution of the estate.
  • Pour-Over Will: A Will that lists a Trust as its beneficiary.
  • Probate: The process of deciding where, how, and to whom to distribute the decedent’s property when there is a Will.
  • Real property: Buildings and land.
  • Summary Probate or Summary Proceedings: An expedited process of administering a decedent’s estate without going through the formal probate process. Only available in certain circumstances.
  • Testate: When someone dies leaving a Will.
  • Trust: When one person (trustee) holds property at another person’s (settlor’s) request for the benefit of someone else (the beneficiary).
  • Will: A legal paper that lists a person’s wishes about what will happen to his/her property after death.
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