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Basic Estate Planning Terms


Will - Document that states your wishes concerning the distribution of your estate at your death. Your estate includes your real property (home, acreage, etc.) and personal property (cash, investments, retirement, stocks, certificates of deposits, etc.).

Living Will - Instrument (document) that directs medical practitioners in your treatment. It generally refers to the withholding or withdrawal of life-prolonging procedures when the application of such procedures would serve only to artificially prolong the process of dying.

Living Trust or Revocable Living Trust - Instrument used to distribute your assets and minimize your public disclosure of assets and minimize probate costs. Simply put, this document is a way to maintain control of your assets while alive and ease the transition of your assets to a trusted spouse, family member or friend in whom you have confidence for them to manage for your personal affairs in the event you are unable to manage them yourself due to disability.

Power of Attorney - Document used to appoint another to act as your agent in order to carry out certain specified acts on your behalf (examples would include: paying bills and managing other financial matters while you are out of the country or in the hospital). It may be for a specific matter (i.e., sale of a house) or for general matters.

Giving Tools


Charitable Gift Annuities - Gift given to a charitable organization in which the individual receives an immediate tax benefit, periodic payments, and longer term tax benefits. The organization receives a benefit as well.

Cash, property, stocks, etc. - Direct gifts given to a charitable organization in which the donor can receive immediate tax benefits.

Gifts in Kind - Items given to a charitable organization such as real property, automobiles, trucks, art, etc. The tax value determined by appraised value of property (or sale price of property, if sold).

Insurance Annuities - Policies set up through a donation in which the charitable organization can receive an immediate and/or a long term benefit. The donor may receive annuities periodically (annually, biannually, quarterly, etc.) and beneficiaries will receive cash benefits upon donor's death.

Scholarships - Scholarships may be set up by donations in the name of loved ones and given to students in the name of the person honored.


Legal Terms


Fiduciary - one in position of responsibility and trust for an individual or company.

Intestate - basically, one who dies without a will and state law will determine distribution of the estate.

Codicil - document changing the terms of a referenced will.

Amendment - document changing the terms of a revocable living trust.

Trustee - person who is legally responsible for a trust.

Grantor - person who grants (gives) power to trustee (may be the same person).

Real Property - property attached to the land (acreage, homes, rental property, etc.)

Personal Property - property that is not attached to the land (i.e. money, cars, jewelry, stocks and bonds, certificates of deposit, savings and checking accounts, bearer bonds, animals, etc.)

Reverse Mortgage - Using equity in your home for current living expenses. This is a last resort.

Probate - literally to prove in court. Probate Law exercises the function of settling decedent's estates.