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Getting Comfortable With Estate Planning Terminology

Estate Planning Terminology
Familiarize Yourself with Estate Planning Terminology.

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.


A person who is named under a Power of Attorney to act on behalf of another person.  Also commonly reviewed 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 or www.stinsonalawfirm.com