Some Helpful Definitions
Estate: The assets a person accumulates during their life.
Probate: A court proceeding that transfers and distributes a decedentís assets to the beneficiaries.
Personal Representative: [Called Executor in many other states] Manages the estateís assets through the probate process.
Joint Tenancy: A method of ownership of property by two or more people where upon the death of one owner, the survivor has full title.
Estate Tax Credit:
The amount a decedentís estate may transfer to a beneficiary without
incurring any estate tax.
Everything above the Estate Tax Credit is taxed at 46% in 2009.
Testate: Dying with a will
Intestate: Dying without a will [and letting the state laws govern the distribution of the estate]
Execute a Will: The process of signing the document. Two disinterested witnesses are required.
Contesting a Will: Objections raised during the probate process that seeks to alter the proposed distributions.
Trust: A financial entity to own money with a provision for a division between the manager and beneficiary
Funding a Trust: The process of re-titling assets from personal or joint ownership to trust ownership.
Trustee: Manager of the trust assets. Also known as a fiduciary.
Grantor: The person[s] who create a trust and then fund it. Also know as a settler
Testamentary Trust: A trust created upon someoneís death either by his or her will or by a living revocable trust.
Revocable Trust: A trust where assets can flow freely in and out and where the terms and conditions can be readily amended or revoked.
Irrevocable Trust: A trust where the terms and conditions cannot be changed.
Up to $1,000,000
1 to 5 Million
Over 5 Million