Your Guide to Terms You Might Hear During Your Estate Planning Meeting.

Are you thinking about hiring an estate planning lawyer but worried you won’t know what they are talking about during the meeting? Here is an extensive list of all the words you might hear at your initial meeting.

A Trust

An A Trust is the surviving spouse’s portion of an A-B Trust.

A-B Trust

An A-B Trust is a trust that includes an estate tax-planning provision that allows you to provide for your surviving spouse. It will also allow you to have control over who will have access to your assets once your spouse dies.

Alternative Beneficiary

This is the person who will receive your assets if the primary beneficiaries you named die before you do.

Annual Exclusion

An Annual Exclusion is an amount that can be given to someone each year without having to file a gift tax return.


An asset is anything that you own. Assets can be your home, a property that you own, bank accounts, investments, jewelry, life insurance policies, etc.


A document that transfers your interest in assets from your name to another. It is mostly used when transferring assets to a trust.

B Trust

The deceased spouse’s portion of an A-B Trust. Also called a credit shelter or a bypass trust.


The amount that you paid for an asset. It is used to determine gain or loss for income tax.


The person or organization that will receive the trust assets after the trust grantor passes.

Certificate of Trust

A Certificate of Trust is a shortened version of the trust that verifies the trust’s existence and explained the powers given to the trustee.

Children’s Trust

A trust for children of the grantor or testator. These trusts can either be testamentary (through a will) or set up as part of a living trust. If the beneficiary is not of legal age when you die the child’s inheritance will go into this trust and will be managed by a trustee you have named until the child is of age or reaches the age you want them to inherit.


A written change or amendment to a Will.


Two or more persons who establish one living trust together.

Common Pot Trust

A trust established for multiple beneficiaries in which all of the assets are held in one pot for the benefit of all of the beneficiaries rather than in separate shares.


The one who is legally responsible for the care and welfare being of another person. Also known as a guardian.


A court-controlled program for an incapacitated adult (an adult who is unable to manage his/her own affairs due to a mental or physical disability). Also known as a guardianship in some states.


A contest is to dispute or challenge the terms of the will or trust.


A document that lets you transfer title of your real estate to another person.


To refuse to accept a gift or inheritance. Disclaimers are often used in sophisticated tax planning strategies.


To prevent someone from inheriting from you.

Durable Financial Power of Attorney

An estate planning document that gives another person (an agent called an attorney-in-fact) full or limited legal authority to take action on your behalf in your absence.

Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care

An estate planning document that lets you give someone else the authority to make health care decisions for you when you are unable to make them for yourself. Also known as a health care proxy or medical power of attorney.


The person or institution named in a will to carry out its instructions upon your death through the probate process.


The person having the legal duty or act primarily for another’s benefit.


The person who sets up or creates the trust.


An heir is entitled by law to receive a portion of your estate upon your death.

Holographic Will

A handwritten will.


The assets received from someone who has died.

Irrevocable Trust

A trust that can not be changed or canceled once it is set up.

Joint Ownership

When two or more persons own the same assets together

Joint Tenants with Right of Survivorship

A form of joint ownership in which the deceased owner’s share automatically and immediately transfers to the surviving joint tenants upon death.

Living Trust

An estate planning document that creates an entity to which you transfer ownership of your assets. It is essentially a bucket into which you put your assets. As long as you are alive and competent, then you control all of the assets in the bucket and what happens to the bucket. When you become incapacitated or disabled, the person you have selected as successor trustee takes over management of the assets in the bucket.

Living Will

An estate planning document setting forth your wishes for end of life treatment.


The legal process of validating a will, paying debts, and distributing assets after death.

Revocable Trust

A trust in which the person setting it up retains the power to change or cancel the trust during their lifetime.

Special Needs Trust

A trust which allows you to provide for a disabled loved one without interfering with government benefits.


An entity that holds assets for the benefit of certain other persons or entities.


An estate planning document with instructions for disposing of assets after death. A will must go through a court proceeding called a probate when you die.

Estate Planning can be a daunting and you might not know where to start. At Smith Barid we are here to help. After reading over this list give us a call and we can create a custom plan that will meet you and your family needs. Give us a call today at 912.352.3999

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