This Glossary contains (1) the legal terms used in the Thoughtful Will, and (2) a bunch of the “legalese” terms from trust and estates law that we think are unnecessarily confusing.
Beneficiary – person or entity who receives the benefit of something – for example, the beneficiary of a life insurance policy. (We don’t use this word in the Thoughtful Will – we use the term “Recipient” instead.)
Bequest – “gift” or “inheritance”, generally of an item like an heirloom. (We don’t use this word in the Thoughtful Will – depending on the context we use the term “special gift” or “inheritance” instead.)
Child/Maturity Trust – a trust account that holds assets for children and/or young adults – they’ll receive full control of the assets when they reach a certain age.
Descendants – children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc. – includes biological children and legally adopted children.
Disinherit – if you don’t want someone to receive anything from your Will, usually an evil relative.
Estate – absolutely everything you own.
Executor – the administrator of your Will – the same thing as your Personal Representative.
Fiduciary – a person or organization that owes a duty of trust – another word for “trustee”. This is a good word, but it has so many possible uses that we avoid it.
Holographic Will – a handwritten Will that didn’t need to be signed – no longer valid in most states.
Issue – bloodline descendants, like your children and grandchildren. Stupidly, doesn’t include adopted children. (Such a deeply dumb word – we don’t use it in the Thoughtful Will – we use the term “descendants” instead.)
Legacy giving statement – one or more statements that urge recipients to support charitable organizations or to do charitable work like volunteering. These legacy giving statements aren’t binding on your recipients and can be as focused or as broad as you’d like.
Legal guardian – a person who will care for your children who are younger than 18.
Notary public – a person authorized by the state to officially witness signatures.
Per stirpes – Google it. We don’t use this phrase and we refuse to waste any time trying to explain it.
Personal Representative – same thing as Executor (some states prefer one word or the other, so we use both) – this person is the administrator of your Will.
Pet guardian – a person who will care for your pets.
Pet Trust – a trust account that holds assets that will be used to cover the Pet Guardian’s expenses in caring for your pets.
Probate – judicial proceeding that establishes the validity of your Will.
Protective Lifelong Trust – a trust account that holds assets for a loved one who isn’t able to spend money wisely.
Residue/Residuary Clause – another delightful, old-school legalese word – the idea is that after required taxes and expenses are paid, after bequests/special gifts are given, that remaining portion of your Estate is called the “residue”. Instead of talking about the residuary clause, we just ask who should receive the rest of your Estate and then help you create backup plans.
Special bequest – same as a “bequest” (above).
Special Gift – a gift of a specific item or a specific dollar amount that is given to a specific recipient.
(This is the term we use instead of “bequest” or “special bequest”.)
Spendthrift trust – the traditional name for our Protective Lifelong Trust – a spendthrift is a fool with money (like Toad from “Wind in the Willows”).
Trust – a legal “trust” is a special account that holds assets for the benefit of one or more people. You pick a trustee who manages the account and authorizes spending to benefit the recipient.
Trustee – the person who manages a trust account – the trustee monitors and invests the trust account’s assets and the trustee authorizes spending from the trust to benefit the recipient.
Testament – almost always used in conjunction with “Will”, traditionally the testament dealt with personal property. (The first line of the Thoughtful Will declares it your “last will and testament”, but we don’t use this word elsewhere.)
Will – the document that outlines what should happen after you die – it should dispose of your possessions (i.e., your Estate) and hopefully include guardians and/or trusts to care for your vulnerable loved ones.