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When creating your estate plan, you will likely see many legal terms that may confuse you. It’s important to understand what these terms mean so that you can create a plan that fits your needs and so that you understand how your plan works. We’ve taken the time to define some of these terms so that you can better understand the estate planning process. Take a look at the information below to learn more. If you have any questions, or if you’re ready to start creating your estate plan, contact an estate planning attorney.

Estate – This includes the decedent’s property, including real estate, personal property, and other assets that are owned and controlled by the decedent at the time of his or her death.

Beneficiary – An individual who derives benefit from the creation of a trust, proceeds of insurance policy, or property designated by a will.

Will – A legal document that an individual uses to state his or her wishes on how property will be divided after death. It also discusses who will care for his or her minor children (i.e. guardian) and who will handle estate affairs after his or her death (i.e. executor.)

Trust – A legal arrangement (i.e. contract or agreement) in which an individual gives control over the assets held in the trust to a trustee in order to benefit the trust’s beneficiaries.

Intestate – A person who dies without leaving a will is said to have died intestate. In this situation, the individual’s state laws (i.e. New York) and the courts will determine how his or her affairs are handled.

Probate – The legal process that determines the validity of a will and administers an estate until all of the property is distributed.

These terms will help you better understand your own estate planning. If you have any additional questions, or if you’d like to begin discussing your estate plan needs, consult with a qualified estate planning attorney.

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