When it comes to estate planning, you’re likely familiar with some of its more common terms. These terms typically include a will, a trust or an executor. But estate planning has a language all its own, and many of the terms may be foreign to you. Let’s take a closer look at some of the other terms you may come across in your estate plan.

Administrator: An individual or fiduciary appointed by a court to manage an estate if no executor or personal representative has been appointed or the appointee is unable or unwilling to serve.

Ascertainable standard: The legal standard, typically relating to an individual’s health, education, support and maintenance, that’s used to determine what distributions are permitted from a trust.

Attorney-in-fact: The individual named as the agent under a power of attorney to handle the financial and/or health affairs of another person.

Codicil: A legally binding document that makes minor modifications to an existing will without requiring a complete rewrite of the will.

Community property: A form of ownership in certain states in which property acquired during a marriage is presumed to be jointly owned regardless of who paid for it.

Credit shelter trust: A trust established to bypass the surviving spouse’s estate to take full advantage of each spouse’s federal estate tax exemption. It’s also known as a bypass trust or A-B trust.

Fiduciary: An individual or entity, such as an executor or trustee, designated to manage assets or funds for beneficiaries and is legally required to exercise an established standard of care.

Grantor trust: A trust in which the grantor retains certain control so that it’s disregarded for income tax purposes and the trust’s assets are included in the grantor’s taxable estate.

Inter vivos: The legal phrase used to describe various actions (such as transfers to a trust) made by an individual during his or her lifetime.

Intestacy: If a person dies without a legally valid will, the deceased’s estate is distributed in accordance with the applicable state’s intestacy laws.

Joint tenancy: An ownership right in which two or more individuals (such as a married couple) own assets, often with rights of survivorship.

No-contest clause: A provision in a will or trust that is designed to ensure that an individual who pursues a legal challenge to assets will forfeit his or her inheritance or interest.

Pour-over will: A will used, upon death, to pass ownership of assets that weren’t transferred to a revocable trust.

Power of appointment: The power granted to an individual under a trust that authorizes him or her to distribute assets on the termination of his or her interest in the trust or in certain other circumstances.

Power of attorney (POA): A legal document authorizing someone to act as attorney-in-fact for another person relating to financial and/or health matters. A “durable” POA continues if the person is incapacitated.

Qualified disclaimer: The formal refusal by a beneficiary to accept an inheritance or gift or to allow the inheritance or gift to pass to the successor beneficiary.

Probate: The legal process of settling an estate in which the validity of the will is proven, the deceased’s assets are identified and distributed, and debts and taxes are paid. Spendthrift clause: A clause in a will or trust restricting the ability of a beneficiary (such as a child under a specified age) to transfer or distribute assets.

Tenancy by the entirety: An ownership right exclusively for spouses in which property is owned by the pair. As with other joint property, ownership automatically passes to the surviving spouse on the death of the first spouse to die.

Tenancy in common: An ownership right in which each person possesses rights and ownership of an undivided interest in the property.

Bear in mind that this is just a brief overview of estate planning terms. Turn to your estate planning advisor for a more detailed explanation.

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Disclaimer: The THK Legal Blog is for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal advice. In no case does the published material constitute an exhaustive legal study, and applicability to a particular situation depends upon an investigation of specific facts. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. All THK blogs are considered advertising material by the Indiana Bar Association.