Starting To Develop Your Estate Plan? Know The Following Terminology

Are you planning on meeting with a lawyer to develop an estate plan? If so, you'll likely be hearing a lot of new terms that you are unfamiliar with. Here is what you need to know before you start the planning process.


A will is the most basic document needed for an estate plan since it determines who you designate to receive certain assets after your death. This document will also name a person to be your state's executor.


The executor of a will is the person that you give responsibility to carry out the request in your will. A good way to remember it is that they execute your desires. It is important to pick somebody that you trust and is willing to take on this responsibility.

Living Will

The difference between a will and a living will is that the latter will declare what you want to happen to you in terms of end-of-life medical treatment. This is ideal for situations where you are terminally ill or unable to make decisions for yourself but have certain wishes that you want to carry out. Your living will is designed to supersede the decision of your spouse or other family members.


Probate is the process where your will is validated by the court system. You may think that this is a simple process, but it can easily be complicated if you have multiple iterations of your will and the court needs to determine which one is the most recent version. 


A trust is the entity that holds onto assets that are designed to belong to multiple people and is often used as an alternative to a will. Instead of giving assets to someone after you pass away, you will share these assets in a trust.


A trustee is a person that manages a trust according to the guidelines that have been set up. This includes giving people assets after you pass away or even withholding assets until certain conditions are met. For example, you may leave money to a child in a trust, but designate it only for college use. It is common to list a successor trustee, which is the person that will take over if something happens to the trustee and makes them unable to fulfill their duties. 

These are just a few of the terms you'll need to know when setting up your estate plan. Ask your lawyer if you are unfamiliar with any terms and visit websites like for more information.