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Estate Planning Terms To Know

Aug. 16, 2021

Two parents and their daughter discuss their estate plan with a laywerFor most people, estate planning is not a daily activity. That is why the terms used in the estate planning process can sound like a foreign language. Nonetheless, every adult should have an estate plan to ensure that their wishes are carried out when they are no longer able to speak for themselves. It is important to understand some of the language of estate planning since it will be speaking for you.

Attorney Robert Taylor-Manning has helped hundreds of clients in Kennewick, Pasco, Richland, and Walla Walla, Washington, and Portland, Oregon understand the language of estate planning. He wants his clients to understand the need for an estate plan and the tools you can use to preserve your legacy on your own terms.

Why is Estate Planning So Important?

Every adult should have an estate plan in place, even if it is only a simple will. Sadly, only one in three adults has a will to plan for what happens when they are gone forever. While having one is particularly important for older adults, severely ill people, and parents with minor children, no one knows when they will die. Working with an estate planning attorney can help you plan for that eventuality.

A will is valuable, but it is only one tool in a comprehensive estate plan that details the distribution of your assets according to your wishes. There are also tools you can use to ensure that your wishes regarding your estate, medical care, and business affairs are carried out should you be unable to express those wishes yourself.

If you fail to formalize your wishes now through comprehensive estate planning, the probate court will make those decisions for you later.

Important Estate Planning Terms

  • Advance Directive: Also known as a “living will,” this document affirms a person’s wishes regarding issues such as the use of life support and other heroic measures and medical treatments, typically when death is imminent.

  • Beneficiary: A person named in a will, insurance policy, or designated in a payment on death (POD) or transfer on death (TOD) to receive money or property. This term also applies to someone designated to receive benefits from a trust.

  • Executor: The person named in a will and appointed by the court to carry out the wishes of the decedent as stated in the will. This is also referred to as the “personal representative.”

  • Guardianship: The legal relationship between a person or institution named in a testamentary document or appointed by the court to care for a minor child or incapacitated adult.

  • Heir: A person who inherits from the estate when there is no will.

  • Intestate: A person who dies without leaving a valid will, or any will at all. The court distributes the proceeds to heirs of the estate according to the laws of intestate succession.

  • Powers of Attorney: Documents designating the person with the right and authority to make binding decisions for another person.

  • Probate: The court procedure for validating or invalidating a will. This also includes oversight of all matters related to the administration of estates and other estate-related matters.

  • Special Needs Trust: A legal fiduciary relationship that provides a physically or mentally disabled or chronically ill person to receive income without disqualifying them from public disability and healthcare benefits such as Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid.

  • Trust: Property assigned to a trustee to manage for the benefit of the beneficiaries of the trust.

  • Will: A testamentary document or codicil that appoints a personal representative/executor, revokes or revises a previous will, nominates a guardian, and specifies the distribution of a decedent’s estate. A will can also exclude or limit the right of individuals to receive the decedent’s property, even if they would be beneficiaries under intestate succession.

Trust The Law Offices of Robert
Taylor-Manning with Your Estate Plan

The language of estate planning can be difficult. The details required in each and every estate planning document can be overwhelming. Fortunately, an experienced estate planning professional like Attorney Robert Taylor-Manning can eliminate the barriers and walk you through the steps required to make sure your wishes are carried out when you are no longer able to express them.

You should not leave the preservation of your legacy to one-size-fits-all online templates and forms. Working with an estate planning attorney will ensure that your documents comply with Washington law. Furthermore, as things change in your life such as marriage, divorce, births, deaths, and acquisition or loss of assets, your attorney will work with you to keep your estate planning documents current and relevant.

Join the hundreds of clients from Kennewick, Pasco, Richland, and Walla Walla, Washington and Portland, Oregon who have trusted Attorney Robert Taylor-Manning to handle their estate planning for over 30 years. He understands that estate planning can be confusing. That is why he is dedicated to patiently helping you understand the process. All you need to do is call the Law Offices of Robert Taylor-Manning today to get started.