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Estate Planning Definitions

Beneficiary The person or persons you give your property to.
Bequeath Give
Bequest Gift
Bond A special insurance policy that insures against the Executor or Trustee stealing money from the estate.
Choses in Action A right to personal things of which the owner does not have possession but does have a right of action (legal right) for their possession.
Codicil An amendment to a Will
Conservator A person appointed to take care of another person’s financial property who is unable to take care of himself by reason of age, disability, or illness.
Descendant Your children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, etc. (Does include adopted persons) (Does not include son-in-law, daughter-in-law, etc.)
Devise Give
Devisees The person or persons you give your property to.
Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care This document has been replaced with the Georgia Advance Directive for Health Care, pursuant to Georgia Law, effective July 1, 2007.
Estate All of your property, including real estate, personal property and all forms of financial assets
Executor A person who, after your death, collects all your assets, pays all your bills and distributes the balance as you direct in your will.
Fee Simple Complete ownership of real property (real estate) without any restrictions
Fiduciary A fiduciary owes the utmost in honesty, loyalty and legal duty to the beneficiaries of the estate or trust. An Executor (defined above) and a Trustee (defined below) are both fiduciaries.
Georgia Advance Directive for Health Care A formal document prescribed by Georgia law wherein you appoint someone to make medical decisions for you when you are unable to make those decisions for yourself. Also allows you to state your personal care and medical treatment preferences, including accepting or declining certain types of treatment and the withdrawal or continuation of life support in certain circumstances.
Georgia Transfers to Minors Act A Georgia Act wherein a “custodian” can hold property of a minor until that minor reaches the age of 21. The custodian is a caretaker of the funds for the minor. For example, if your minor child wants to open a bank account, it would typically be set up similar to the following: John A. Smith, as custodian for Joseph Smith, a minor.
Guardian A person appointed to take care of another who is unable to take care of himself by reason of age, disability, or illness
Heir Your heirs are the people that will inherit your assets if you die without a will. There is a set formula under Georgia law that determines who will inherit your estate. Spouse and lineal descendants are first. If you die without a spouse or lineal descendants, your parents and siblings have next priority. If you die without a spouse, lineal descendants, parents or siblings, or more distant blood relatives will inherit your assets.
Joint Tenancy (With Rights of Survivorship) A form of ownership between two or more people wherein the property automatically passes to the survivor(s) upon the death of a party. Property held this way is not distributed by a Last Will & Testament, but passes as a matter of law.
Lapsed or Void Legacy or Devise A gift by will “lapses” (is cancelled) if the person to receive the gift is then deceased. This also occurs when someone gives a particular piece of property in their will, but does not then own that property when they die.
Legatees The person or persons you give your property (real estate, personal property or financial assets) to.
Living Will This document has been replaced with the Georgia Advance Directive for Health Care, pursuant to Georgia Law, effective July 1, 2007.
Outside the Will Some property “passes outside the will”. Who receives this property is determined by your directions when you opened the financial account and not by your Last Will & Testament. This may include P.O.D. accounts (see below), certificates of deposit, bank accounts, retirement accounts, life insurance and property held as joint tenants with right of survivorship.
Payable on Death, (abbreviated as “P.O.D.”) Some financial accounts are “P.O.D.” accounts. This means that the account will go to the person you designate on the account records with the bank and not in accordance with your will.
Per Stirpes Latin for “by representation”. A method of dividing your estate by class rather than by a head count. For example, you die leaving behind one living child, one deceased child with two living children and one deceased child with three living children. Your living child and each “set” of grandchildren are entitled to 1/3 of your estate. Your living child will receive 1/3 of your estate; the two living children of one deceased child will each receive 1/6 of your estate (1/2 of 1/3); and the three living children of other deceased child will each receive 1/9 of your estate (1/3 of 1/3).
Power of Appointment The right to direct in your will who get assets from a trust set up by another person. It is a rare estate planning tool, but it can have dramatic effects on the taxability of your estate.
Probate The act of “proving” a will in court, collecting assets, paying debts and distributing what is left over.
Revocable Financial Power of Attorney A formal document wherein you appoint someone to handle your financial affairs. This is also called a General Power of Attorney.
Self Proving Affidavit An attachment to a Last Will & Testament that eliminates the need for the witnesses to a will to be found and sign a formal document answering several questions when the will is offered for probate.
Spray Trust A trust wherein the Trustee has the power to distribute funds based upon the Trustee’s opinion of the individual need of each beneficiary. The Trustee can also use the income now for the benefit of the beneficiaries or let it accumulate and be divided later.
Taxable Estate The amount of your estate, for Federal Estate Tax Purposes , which includes your actual estate as well as the value of your property that passed outside your will, life insurance and the value of lifetime gifts (under certain circumstances).
Trust A formal document appointing a trustee to handle money and property for the beneficiaries of the trust. A trust may be created on account of a physical need, to legally avoid or reduce federal estate taxes, or to avoid probate. A trust created during your lifetime is known as a “living” trust. A trust created upon your death (within your will) is known as a “testamentary” trust.
Trust – QTIP Trust A trust wherein the surviving spouse receives all the income and the other beneficiaries receive all the principal after the death of the surviving spouse.
Trustee A person who manages the money and property of another person.
Years’ Support The Georgia statutory right of a widow or widower and minor children to be supported for one year from your estate. This right comes ahead of almost all creditors.