Some people feel uncomfortable meeting with an attorney to discuss their estate planning needs because of an unfamiliarity with the law. A good lawyer will discuss your available options in simple terms that a person with no legal training can comprehend.

You can also relieve some of that hesitancy by familiarizing yourself with legal terminology before meeting with a qualified estate planning attorney to discuss the appropriate choices for you. The following is a short list of common legal terms that may come up in an estate planning meeting. Take just a few minutes to familiarize yourself with this list and keep it handy for future reference.

Estate Planning Terminology:


A person who is named under a Power of Attorney to act on behalf of another person.  Also commonly referred to as an “agent” or “power of attorney.”


A person or entity that receives a benefit from an estate, trust, or asset transfer vehicle.

Death Probate

The legal process used to assemble and transfer a decedent’s probate assets to the intended beneficiaries and settle a decedent’s outstanding debts.


A person who has passed away.


All the assets owned by a decedent upon his or her death.

Executor/Administrator/Personal Representative

The person responsible for settling a decedent’s estate.


A person who transfers an asset to another person or entity, such as in a real estate deed.

Grantor (Trust)

A person who creates a trust. (Also sometimes called a “trustor” or “settlor.”)

Guardian of the Person

A court-appointed supervisor in charge of the care of a minor or incompetent person’s physical well-being.

Guardian of the Estate

A court-appointed supervisor in charge of the care of a minor or incompetent person’s financial well-being.

Irrevocable Trust

A trust in which the trustor has not reserved the right to revoke and cannot change the wording in the trust.

Living Trust

A trust established and operating during the trustor’s lifetime.

Nonprobate Asset

An asset of a decedent that is owned by a trust, is in joint name with another individual, or has a beneficiary designation.

Probate Asset

An asset in a decedent’s sole name, with no beneficiary designation.

Revocable Trust

A trust in which the trustor reserves the right to revoke.

Special Needs Trust

A trust typically established for a disabled individual who receives needs-based public benefits.


The creator of a will.


A legal arrangement in which the Grantor transfers assets to the Trustee and creates instructions for the Trustee to following in using such assets for a beneficiary.


A person or entity named in a trust agreement to be responsible for holding and administering the trust assets according to the terms of the trust.


A legal document used to transfer probate assets upon a decedent’s death.

To get started with you estate plan, contact us today at 317-622-8181.

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