Last Will & Testament: 5 Key Terms You Should Know

Posted on: 13 November 2014

Are you in the process of doing your estate planning? If so, there are some terms that you may not be familiar with. It's important to know as much as possible about your last will and testament. This will help you make sure that you draft it correctly. This article will discuss some key terms when it comes to your estate planning.

Beneficiary

The beneficiary is one of the people who will receive assets from your estate. Typically, beneficiaries are children, siblings, and other close family members.

In your will, you can indicate which beneficiary is going to receive specific assets. You can also determine when they are entitled to claim the assets you are leaving to them.

For example, you have a son to whom you would like to leave a large sum of money. You might not want him to have that money until he's at an age where he's more responsible. You can use a testamentary trust in your will to indicate what age you would like him to receive that money.

Guardian

The guardian is someone you choose to take care of your minor children in the event that you pass away. They will be responsible for the child's development, property, and daily care. This means they will basically parent your child in your stead.

Selecting a suitable guardian for your children is probably the most important part of the estate planning process. You want to make sure you pick people who you trust and who are capable of taking care of your children.

Trustee

A trustee is an individual that is appointed by you to manage an asset until it's time for a beneficiary to claim it. In the example above, the sum of money you leave to your son would be managed by a trustee who you select.

They are responsible for maintaining the asset properly. When your son comes of age, the trustee is responsible for transferring the asset to him.

Testator

The testator is the person who is drafting the will. In this case, it's you! When you draft your last will and testament, you are indicating your wishes when it comes to the distribution of your assets, your burial arrangements, and the guardians of your children.

When drafting your last will and testament, it's important to make sure it is done correctly and that your wishes are clearly stated. This will help it go through the probate process much easier. If you don't have an attorney draft your will for you, it's still a good idea to at least have an attorney (from Mackevich, Burke & Stanicki or another firm) review it with you to make sure it functions in the way you intend.

Executor

The executor is the person who will be responsible for managing your estate when you pass away. Their duties will include:

  • Distributing your assets.
  • Paying any remaining debts.
  • Taking care of the probate process.

When choosing an executor, it's important to choose someone that is responsible and trustworthy. It's also best to make sure they reside in the same state as you. It is very likely that they will need to appear in probate court.

If you aren't sure who to appoint in the roles listed above, speak with an experienced estate planning attorney who can give you the proper guidance.

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