Estate Planning Dictionary

A helpful glossary of terms used when discussing trusts and estate planning.

Term Definitions
Creator See Grantor.
Credit shelter trust  A Trust that uses an individual’s available exclusion for federal estate and gift tax purposes.
Disclaimers    The refusal or rejection of any rights, interest or property that was offered to a person. Taxpayers have a limited time to disclaim a gift or a bequest/devise without potentially incurring transfer taxes.
Durable power of attorneySee Power of Attorney.
Form 706IRS Estate Tax Return.
Form 709IRS Gift Tax Return.
Form 1041IRS Estate and Trust Income Tax Return.
Grantor The person who sets up or creates the trust; also called settlor, trustor or creator.
Inter vivos trust Another name for a living trust (See Living Trust).
Intestate  Describes one who dies without a will. Typically, state statutes will then dictate the distribution of assets.
Personal representative Another name for an executor or administrator.
Power of attorney         A legal document that gives someone else full legal authority to make decisions on your behalf in your absence (different from the fiduciary duty of a trustee). Ends at disability or death. Some states permit a durable power of attorney that is valid through disability and ends at death. Limited powers of attorney give someone else only limited authority for a very specific purpose.
Probate guardianship     The court-supervised appointment of a person to oversee the personal matters (guardian of the person) or the financial matters (guardian of the estate) of a person unable to manage their affairs because of incompetency or age.
Qualified terminable interest property (Q-TIP Trust)   A marital trust that qualifies for the estate or gift tax marital deduction. Provides for the trust creator’s spouse during his/her lifetime, and then distributes as directed by the trust creator.
Real property Land and/or property that is permanently attached to land (such a building or house).
SettlorSee Grantor.
Tenancy-by-the-entirety   A form of joint ownership involving two spouses. Upon death of a spouse, ownership transfers to the surviving spouse. Not available in all states.
Tenancy-in-common    A form of joint ownership involving two or more people. Upon the death of a tenant-in-common, that person’s ownership interest transfers to the designated beneficiaries or heirs, not to the remaining joint owner(s).
Testate Describes one who dies with a will established.
TestatorOne who creates a will.

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