Glossary of Estate Planning Terms

  • Estate Planning
Estate Planning Terms | Mario Godoy | Chicago Estate & Probate Lawyer

Meeting with an attorney and their legal talk can be intimidating. To prepare for your meeting, it can be helpful to become familiar with their legalese. Legal estate planning terms are often confusing and could lead to miscommunication.

When you meet with an estate planning attorney, it’s a smart idea to familiarize yourself with some basic estate planning legal terms. If you haven’t worked with an estate planning attorney previously, there can be many unfamiliar words and terms.

Top Estate Planning Terms

Here are the top 25 estate planning terms you should know to help you make your estate plan in Illinois:

  1. Assets:
    Everything you own including real estate, cash, insurance, personal possessions, savings accounts, investments, jewelry, businesses, and intellectual property.
  2. Beneficiary:
    The person who receives the assets from a Living Trust.
  3. Community Property:
    Assets a wife and husband jointly own. Illinois does not recognize community property inheritance and follows surviving spousal rights.
  4. Deceased:
    The person who has died.
  5. Dependents:
    Minor children or adults who legally rely on someone for financial or caregiver support.
  6. Estate:
    Both your assets and debts.
  7. Estate Planning:
    Instruction for what you want to be done with your estate after you die or become incapacitated, including who will inherit your property, how your bills will be paid, who will care for any minor children and other important decisions.
  8. Inheritance:
    The assets you receive after someone dies.
  9. Intestate:
    Dying without a valid written will. Illinois intestacy laws determine who will inherit their assets if someone dies without a will.
  10. Joint Ownership:
    When 2 or more people own an asset together.
  11. Joint Tenants With Rights of Survivorship:
    When 2 or more people own an asset together if one of them dies, the other owner(s) inherit their share of the asset.
  12. Liquid Assets:
    Cash, stocks, bonds and other assets that can quickly be converted to cast without hurting their value.
  13. Living Will:
    A legal document where you transfer your assets to other people during your lifetime.
  14. Minor:
    Someone who is under the age of adulthood, which is under 18 in Illinois.
  15. Personal Property:
    Assets that are easily moved, such as furniture, cars or cash; versus property such as real property that cannot be moved, such as land.
  16. Power of Attorney:
    Legal authorization for someone to make decisions on your behalf.
  17. Probate:
    The legal procedure and costs to validate and execute the terms of your will.
  18. Real Property:
    Assets that cannot be moved such as a home or property; versus personal property such as furniture or cash.
  19. Spouse:
    Your legally married husband or wife. Illinois does not have common law marriages but does recognize common law marriages from states where it is legal. Illinois does recognize same-sex marriage and spouses.
  20. Surviving Spouse:
    The spouse that is alive after their spouse dies.
  21. Taxes:
    Illinois has estate taxes, probate taxes and inheritance taxes. Your estate plan and the value of your assets will determine how much needs to be paid in taxes after your death.
  22. Testate:
    When you die with a valid will.
  23. Trust:
    A trust is a way to determine how another person can use your assets after you die.
  24. Trustee:
    The person who follows the instructions in your trust to distribute or manage your assets.
  25. Will:
    A written document that says how your assets will be distributed after your death.

Choose to Meet with an Attorney

Meeting with a Probate, Trust, & Estates attorney helps you prepare for the unknown and the unexpected. Though it may be tempting to put off, creating an estate plan can help prevent serious issues down the road. When you work with an attorney to decide what will happen to your assets after you die, they can create an estate plan that gives you peace of mind. To talk to a Chicago estates and probate attorney contact the Estate & Probate Legal Group in Lombard Illinois at (630) 800-0112.