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Estate Administration Glossary

On behalf of David Whitlock at Whitlock Canter LLC

Provided By Our Paramus, New Jersey Law Firm

Administrator: A person appointed by the Surrogate’s Office who manages your estate if you die without a will: Also, a person appointed by the court if the personal representative(s) named in your will fails or ceases to carry out his/her duties.

Beneficiary: A person who receives benefits, funds or personal property from a will, contract, or insurance policy.

Combined Health Care Directive: A legal document that combines all of the provisions of an Advance Health Care Proxy and Advance Health Care Directive (see definitions above).

Decedent: A person who has died.

Estate: An individual’s property and assets after death.

Estate tax: A tax that is imposed at one’s death and on the transfers of some types of property.

Executor: A person named in a will who settles your estate when you die: The executor collects and distributes your property and pays off any debts according to the terms of your will.

Fiduciary: A person, corporation, or association that is legally responsible for the management, investment, and distribution of funds of another.

Grantor: The person who creates a Trust: Also referred to as a “Settlor”.

Gross estate: The total value of property and assets that an individual has at death before any fees, expenses and estate and inheritance taxes are deducted.

Inter vivos trust: A trust that is created during a person’s lifetime.

Intestate: This is a term used to refer to a person who dies without a will.

Joint tenancy with right of survivorship: A title that is often placed on co-owned property: At the death of one owner, the other owner will be legally entitled to sole possession of the property, regardless of what provisions are made in a will: A husband and wife often use this form of ownership.

Living trust: A revocable trust established during a grantor’s lifetime to provide for the placement of some or all of the grantor’s property during his/her lifetime and how such property should be distributed upon death.

Marital deduction: A federal tax deduction that allows one spouse to pass his or her estate to the other spouse without having to pay estate or gift taxes.

Personal Representative: Person named in a will to manage your estate after you die: Often referred to as the Executor/Executrix.

Power of appointment: A right given to another in a written instrument that allows the other to decide how to distribute your property: A “general&34; power of appointment places no restrictions on the other: A “limited” or “special” power of appointment places restrictions on who may receive distributions.

Probate: Probate is a process whereby a court reviews your will to make sure that it is authentic and where an executor or administrator distributes and manages a decedent’s property.

State death or inheritance taxes: A tax on the privilege to acquire property through inheritance.

Trust: A trust is a written document providing that your property be held by one (the “trustee”) for the benefit of another (the “beneficiary”): A trust may be created during your lifetime (inter vivos trust) or after your death (“testamentary trust”).

Trustee: A person named in a trust document who will manage the property owned by the trust and distribute the trust income or property according to the terms of the trust document: A trustee may be an individual or an organization.

Will: A document that directs how your property shall be distributed upon your death: Each state has separate requirements regarding how wills are to be drafted and executed.


This publication and the information included in it are not intended to serve as a substitute for consultation with an attorney: Specific legal issues, concerns and conditions always require the advice of appropriate legal professionals.