Estate Planning Glossary: Key Terminology You Need to Know
If you are considering estate planning in California, it is important to be familiar with the various terms that may come up during the process. For example, a “living trust” is a type of trust that can be created while you are still alive. It can be used to manage your assets and property during your lifetime, and can also be used to distribute your assets after your death. A “will”, on the other hand, is a document that specifically outlines how you would like your assets to be distributed after your death. An “executor” is the person who is responsible for carrying out your wishes as outlined in your will. And finally, a “probate” is the legal process that is used to validate a will and carry out its instructions. By familiarizing yourself with these terms, you can make the estate planning process in California much easier to navigate.
Mastering Estate Planning Terminology
If you’re new to estate planning, the terminology can be confusing. Here are some key terms that you should know:
Ademption? The failure of a specific bequest of property because the property is no longer owned by the testator at the time of his death.
Beneficiary? The person or entity who will receive assets from your estate.
Decedent? The person who has died.
Estate? The total value of a person’s property and assets, including real estate, investments, cash, and personal belongings.
Executor? The person named in a will to carry out the instructions of the decedent.
Guardian? The person named in a will to care for minor children in the event of the death of both parents.
What is an Heir? A person who stands to inherit property or assets from another person.
Inheritance? Property or assets that are passed down from one generation to the next, typically through a will.
A trust is a legal arrangement in which one person (the trustee) holds and manages property or assets for another person (the beneficiary). Trusts can be used for a variety of purposes, including asset protection and estate tax planning.
What is a Custodian of the Will? The person who has the Will at the time of a person’s death.
What is Intestate Succession? The order of who inherits the property when someone dies without a Will.
What is Intestate? When someone dies without leaving a Will.
What is Testate? When someone dies leaving a Will.
What is Personal Property? Things like cash, stocks, jewelry, clothing, furniture, or cars.
Definition of Real Property? Buildings and land.
What is the Age of Majority? The age when a person acquires all the rights and responsibilities of being an adult. In California, as in most states, the age is 18.
What is an Attorney in Fact? The individual who is designated in the power of attorney document to act on behalf of another.
“Understanding Essential Estate Planning Terminology for Informed Decision-Making”
What is a Case Management Conference? A hearing between the judge and the parties. A CMC typically happens before a trial is scheduled. Witnesses do not need to attend and evidence is not presented. The most important purpose of the hearing is to determine if parties are willing to attempt to settle some or all of the issues in dispute before going to trial. If the settlement is not likely–and parties are unwilling to participate in mediation or a settlement conference–then a Trial Readiness Conference (TRC) and a Trial date may be set.
What is a Certified Copy? An official copy of a particular document from a case file that is notated as a true, complete, and authentic representation of the original document.
What is a Declaration? A written statement that is unsworn but made under penalty of perjury. All declarations must be dated and signed by the declarant and must show the place of execution and name the state wherein the document was executed or otherwise, that the declaration is made under the laws of the state of California.
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