Probate – the court-supervised process of either “proving” a decedent’s Last Will, or administering the assets of a deceased person who died without a Will. It is required when the assets of a decedent exceed $166,250 in gross value, regardless of whether there was a Will, or not.
Decedent – a deceased individual.
Estate Administrator – appointed by the court when a Decedent dies without a Will.
Estate Executor – named by the Decedent to carry out the terms of their Will.
Testamentary Will – a traditional Will. Wills generally must go through Probate.
Pour Over Will – a Will which names your Trust as the sole beneficiary of your Probate Estate. As such, it “pours over” int your trust assets which were not titled in your trust at your death.
Living Trust – allows a Decedent’s assets with gross value exceeding $150,000 to be administered outside of court and without Probate.
Settlor (or Grantor) – the creator of the Trust. In a revocable living trust, the Settlor is also the Trustee, as well as the Beneficiary of the Trust.
Beneficiary – an individual who benefits from a Trust or Will.
Trust – a legal relationship in which property is titled in a legal entity and held by a Trustee for the benefit of aTrust Beneficiary. It provides for administration of your assets during your life, and the distribution of your assets at death.
Trustee – an individual who is in charge of managing the assets owned by a Trust. When you die, your named Successor Trustee steps in to conduct the administration of the trust assets. The Trustee acts in Fiduciary capacity with regard to the Beneficiaries. The Trustee is accountable not only to the Beneficiaries, but most notably – to the Probate Court, for misusing his or her powers, mismanaging, or failing to properly conduct the administration of the trust.
Fiduciary – an individual who is in a position of trust on behalf of another individual. Generally, the term refers to your named Successor Trustee, your Executor, and the Agent under a Power of Attorney.
Trust Amendment or Restatement – may be utilized to update an existing Trust, or a Trust governed by another jurisdiction.
Durable Power of Attorney for Financial Management – a document in which you appoint another person as your Agent to legally represent you and sign/act instead of you, if you are incapacitated, or unable to be physically present at a location where a transaction requiring your signature takes place.
Health Care Directive – a document in which you appoint an Agent who is authorized to make medical decisions for you, and represent your wishes regarding long-term care, your intent to remain or return home after a facility/hospital stay, makes medical decisions if you are incapacitated, unconscious, or medicated, including end-of-life decisions, and organ donation.
HIPAA Release Authority – a document giving your Medical Agent the express permission to obtain your medical records (so that they can make an intelligent and informed decision about authorizing medical treatment for you), and releases the holder of such records from liability under the federal medical records privacy laws (the HIPAA Act).
Prenuptial (or Premarital) Agreement – a contract between couples contemplating marriage. Since California is a Community Property State, the rights and liabilities of married couples are very specific under the California Family Code, which treats the marital unit like a partnership. A Prenuptial Agreement contracts out of the community property scheme, and allows a husband and wife to stipulate about spousal support, property rights, inheritance rights, debts, etc, at time of dissolution or death, and minimize the weight of the family court and case law on the consequences of divorce.
Cohabitation Agreement – a contract set up by persons living together but not contemplating marriage, in which they define their rights, responsibilities, and liabilities arising out of cohabiting together and often – investing in assets together.
Community Property Agreement/Marital Agreement – a contract entered into by married couples who wish to define their property rights, liabilities and responsibilities after marriage. It is utilized by those who never entered into a Prenup, or by those who do have a Prenup, but wish to modify its terms.
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