Trust Administration & Probate Definitions

Agent:

A person authorized to act on behalf of another person, the “principal.”

Appraiser:

Determines the value of hard to value assets – such as a business, real estate, or various types of collections – for tax purposes, as well as to assist the trustee in establishing values for distributions.

Beneficiary:

A person entitled to receive benefits from the trust. The trust’s assets may be distributed outright to the beneficiary, or they may continue to be held in trust for the beneficiary.

Decedent:

The deceased person.

Estate Planning Attorney:

The point-person for the trust administration, assisting the trustee with the inventorying of assets, preparation of estate tax (Form 706) and other tax returns, making of tax elections, and distribution of trust assets as provided under the trust document. Often, the estate attorney coordinates the interaction of other professionals needed for the trust administration.

Executor:

In the case of individuals who have died intestate, the person playing the role of executor is often called the administrator or personal representative.

Financial Planner:

Assists the trustee or estate planning attorney in valuing securities, re-titling assets and making distributions to the beneficiaries.

Funding a Trust:

Transferring ownership of property to a trust.

Gift:

A voluntary, gratuitous transfer of property made to another person.

General Partner:

One or more persons carrying on a business for profit as a partnership or limited partnership, having personal liability for all debts of the partnership, and, if in a limited partnership, having control of operations of the partnership.

Intestate:

Each state has their own set of laws dealing with the procedure to be followed when an individual dies without a Will.

Life Insurance Agent:

Assists the trustee or estate planning attorney in obtaining death benefits that may be payable to a beneficiary or the trust itself.

Limited Partner:

One or more persons associated in a limited partnership, having no personal liability for the debts of the partnership beyond his or her partnership investment, and having no direct control over operations of the limited partnership.

Living Probate:

Most people typically think of “probate” as something that happens after you die. However, court proceedings can also occur while you are alive and is referred to as a “living probate.” A living probate can arise if you become mentally or physically disabled. A living probate is often referred to as either a “guardianship” or “conservatorship.” A guardian is someone appointed by the Court to look after the incapacitated person. A conservator is someone appointed by the Court to look after the assets of an incapacitated person.

Power of Attorney:

A document authorizing one person, the “agent,” to act on behalf of another person, the “principal.” Also, referred to as “Attorney-in-Fact.”

Principal:

A person who has appointed another person, his or her “agent,” to act on his or her behalf.

Probate:

The legal process which transfers legal title from the decedent to the appropriate recipient of the property. This process is necessary when someone dies with a will or no estate plan in place.

Successor Trustee:

Any person appointed to handle a trust after the death or disability of the trustor.

Survivor Trustor/Trustee:

If the trust was a joint trust and the death was the first one for the couple, the surviving spouse is known as the surviving trustor. If the surviving spouse continues in his or her role as manager of the trust, then her or she also acts as the surviving trustee. In some situations, a co-trustee is appointed to act with the surviving spouse, or a third party takes over as trustee after the death of the first spouse.

Trustee:

The person who manages assets owned by a trust under the terms of the trust.

Trustor:

The creator of a trust.

Trust Administration:

The process of following a trust’s instructions after the death of the grantor. For example, a trust may provide for funding of subtrusts.

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