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Estate planning terminology 101

Just hearing the term "estate plan" can make people shudder. It sounds like a difficult and painstaking process that people would rather just ignore or put off until a later date. While creating and maintaining an estate plan can be difficult at times, it doesn't have to be pain-staking. Knowing what you are dealing with and having a legal adviser by your side when things get tough is a crucial part of improving the whole process.

Ultimately, we all need estate plans. They allow us to pass on our assets, our property and our belongings to the people we love and care about. Without an estate plan, your assets may not be handled the way you want them to be handled upon your death.

So, let's take some of the intimidation out of the estate planning process today. Here are a few critical estate planning terms and their definitions:

  • Executor: This is someone that you appoint in your will to execute your estate. This means that this person is in charge of organizing your assets and seeing to the proper distribution of these assets.
  • Intestate: This describes a person who dies without a will. If you don't have a will...
  • Administrator: ... an administrator will be appointed to your estate. This administrator will manage the estate on behalf of the deceased.
  • Fiduciary: This describes anyone who is responsible for funds (their management, distribution, etc.). That means an executor or administrator owes the testator (the person whose estate is in question) a fiduciary duty. Failing this duty could lead to legal consequences.

Source: FindLaw, "Estate Planning & Probate Dictionary," Accessed Feb. 23, 2016

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