You are most likely familiar with the phrase “Last Will and Testament”. This phrase is the traditional lead-in of the document detailing a person’s wishes for their belongings and entitlements upon their death. This document is commonly referred to as a will. A will is a legal document that structures how one’s assets and possessions (estate) are handled upon their death. The party that establishes a will is the ‘testator’, who works with a will preparation lawyer to ensure that his / her wishes are carried out when they are no longer able to look after them. The recipients of element’s of the testator’s estate are referred to as ‘devisees’. A will is a powerful, legally binding document that can range in its coverage from the care of dependent minor children, charitable gifts to be parceled out, formation of trusts and endowments and many other aspects of one’s estate.
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A probate is a legal document and also referred to as an action / process to be taken. “Mr. John Doe’s will is going to probate.” This process verifies the legal validity of the testator’s will. When a will is granted approval, it is known as having been ‘granted probate’. Probate will also identify and empower (if granted probate) the executor of the will. The executor is the individual (usually named in the will) who is charged with carrying out (executing) the testator’s will. While a will is in probate, it may be challenged. Their are many aspects to probate that an experience probate attorney can guide you through. These include notifying creditors or the testator’s demise, how to deal with homestead property, addressing objections to the will, negotiating any pending lawsuits, estate taxes, and more.
Advance Health Care Directive
Commonly known as a ‘Living Will’, an Advance Health Care Directive is just that: a testament that perseveres on when you are unable to. The ‘will’ -that is the desires and choices one could make while in full control of their faculties continues to ‘live on’ and proceed once set into legal binding motion. Commonly it stipulates ways in which one wishes to be cared for in the event that they become incapacitated or otherwise unable to make decisions for themselves due to illness.
Power of Attorney / Health Care Proxy
These are related to the Advance Health Care Directives in that they establish how the care for someone or their assets and business affairs is followed through, should that originating person (the principal, grantor, or donor) be unable to. In the case of Power of Attorney / Health Care Proxy, another person is authorized by legally binding documentation drawn up by the principal and a lawyer specializing in power of attorney. This other person (the agent) will make decisions on the principal’s behalf when the principal is unable to. The concerns covered can range from how the principal’s private, business, and legal affairs are to be conducted to how the health care of the principal are to be carried out.
The official name being ‘testamentary trust’, ‘will trust’ or ‘trust under will’ these legally binding initiatives specify how a trust is to be formed and how it should operate upon the passing of the originator. In the case of trusts, this originating party is referred to as the ‘settlor’ or sometimes, the ‘grantor’ / ‘trustor’, while the person whose duty it is to carry out the terms is known as the ‘trustee’, and individuals who receive benefits of the trust are referred to as ‘beneficiaries’. Trusts may be created with the help of experienced trust attorneys to address any number of concerns. A common example is a settlor establishing a trust to provide financial and other resources for dependents such as minor children.