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"Last Will And Testament Word Definitions"



Section 12: "Last Will And Testament Word Definitions"

Administrator - This word means the same as Executor. The duties, responsibilities and obligations of your Administrator are identical of those of your Executor.

Beneficiary - This refers to the person who receives property through your Will, or the person who receives the benefits from a Trust. Also see "Trust" below.

Bequeath - A gift of personal property.

Bond - This is similar to insurance that pays if the Executor or Trustee does not handle the estate or trust legally and a loss results from the illegal mishandling of the estate or trust.

Codicil - A Codicil is a legal statement changing, amending or altering part of your existing Will. Codicil needs to be signed and executed in the exact same manner as your Will.

Conservator - If you do not have a Will and your property goes to your minor children, a Court will appoint a Conservator. The Conservator is a person appointed by a Court to take care of your minor children's property. A Conservator has duties and obligations that are stated in state laws. A Conservator's job is very much similar to that of a Trustee.

Devise - A gift of real estate also known as real property.

Dower Interest - Some states have laws that automatically give your spouse a life time interest in your property. The interest given is usually a fraction of your estate and is usually given to your surviving spouse only for your surviving spouse's life.

Elective Share - Some states have laws which say that your spouse may elect to take a portion of your estate instead of taking whatever was left to your spouse in your Will. For example, the elective share may be one-third (1/3) of the estate. If your Will left your spouse only one-fourth (1/4) of your estate, then your spouse may elect to take the larger portion of one-third as an elective share.

Estate - This refers to all of the property owned by you at the time of your death that is to be handled by your Executor.

Executor/Executrix - The person appointed by a Court to be legally responsible for settling your affairs. The Executor is responsible for seeing that any tax returns are filed, any bills that you owe are paid from your estate, that your funeral bill is paid, and that your property is given to the person or people that are supposed to receive it. Except in rare cases, the person named in your Will to be the Executor will be appointed by the Court to be the Executor. The legal authority of the Executor depends on both your Will and your state's laws because there are some things that state laws will not allow a Executor to do without Court Approval.

If your Executor is a man, then the word "Executor" might be used. If your Executor is a woman, then the word "Executrix" might be used. The duties, responsibilities and obligations of your Executor/Executrix are identical.

Sometimes, the terms Personal Representative or Administrator are used. These mean the same as Executor, just a different way of saying it.

Guardian - This is the person who has custody of someone else and makes legal decisions for the person in his or her care. For example, the Guardian is the person who decides whether the person in his or her care needs to see a doctor, and if so, which doctor, and approves and disapproves of medical procedures.

Intestate - This refers to when a person dies without a Will.

Last Will And Testament - This is a legal document stating who you want to receive your property upon your death, who you want to settle your estate upon your death, who you want to have custody of any minor child or children that you have at the time of your death, and who you want to take care of any property that is left to your minor children.

Minor - This refers to someone who is younger than the age set by the state for someone to own property or to make his or her own legal decisions. In most states, anyone below the age of 18 is considered to be a minor.

Personal Property - This is a legal term that refers to all property that is not real estate. For Example: furniture, cars, bank accounts, stocks, bonds, CDs, etc.

Personal Representative - Same as Executor above.

Probate - This is the legal process by which your affairs are wound up and settled after your death. Probate Court - Every state has a Court to handle and resolve all matters concerning the winding up and settling of your affairs upon your death. In some states, the Court is called a Probate Court.

Real Property - This is a legal term for real estate. Example: home or land.

Residuary Clause - A statement in your Will that says who will receive any property that is not otherwise distributed by your Will. In other words, a Residuary Clause says who will receive whatever of your property that is not specifically stated in your Will. Example: "I give, devise, and bequeath all of the rest and residue of my property, real and personal, to ..."

Spouse - Either your husband or your wife. The word "spouse" is used in legal documents to replace the words "husband" and "wife". For example, instead of saying "if your husband or your wife", we say "if your spouse".

Testamentary Guardian - This is the person named in your Will to take care of and have custody of your minor children. Also see "Guardian" above.

Testate - This refers to when a person dies with a Will.

Testator - This is the person who is signing and executing the Will. If you are signing your Will, you are the Testator. In old common law, the word "Testator" referred to a man, and the word "Testatrix" referred to a woman.

Trust - A Trust is when property is held and controlled by one person for the benefit of another person. For example, in your Will you leave your property to your minor children. Because minor children cannot hold or take care of property, someone must hold and take care of the property for the minor children. The person holding and taking care of the property is the Trustee and the minor children are the beneficiaries. A Trust can be either written, such as in a Will, or a Trust can be created by law.

Trustee - This is the person who holds and controls property for the benefit of another. The Trustee has a legal obligation to handle and control property in an above board, fair and honest manor. A Trustee has a duty not to improperly deal with the property so as to cause the loss or reduction of the property. Also see "Trust" above.

Will - Same as Last Will And Testament above, just a short way of saying it.

This ebook is for general information only and may not be applicable to your situation. Talk with a lawyer licensed in your state.

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