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23 Common Legal Terms Everyone Should Know

Estate Planning
Estate Planning is the preparation for the distribution and management of a person’s estate at death through the use of wills, trusts, insurance policies, and other arrangements, especially to reduce administration costs and transfer-tax liability.

Trust
A trust is the right to the beneficial enjoyment of property to which another person holds the legal title; a property interest held by one person (the trustee) at the request of another (the settlor/grantor) for the benefit of a third party (the beneficiary).

Will
A will is the legal expression of an individual's wishes about the disposition of his or her property after death; especially by a document by which a person directs his or her estate to be distributed upon death.

Power of Attorney
A power of attorney is an instrument granting someone authority to act as agent or attorney-in-fact for the grantor.

Probate
Probate is the judicial procedure by which a testamentary document is established to be a valid will.

Conservatorship
A conservatorship is a court case where a judge appoints a responsible person or organization (a conservator) to care for another adult (a conservatee) who cannot care for themselves or manage their own finances.

Intestate
Of or relating to a person or the property of person who has died without a valid will.

Quitclaim
A quitclaim is a formal release of one’s claim or right; or the action of relinquishing or releasing a claim or right.

Revocable
Where a document is revocable, then it is capable of being canceled or withdrawn.

Irrevocable
Where a document is irrevocable, then it is considered unalterable, or committed beyond recall.

Grantor
A grantor, or a settlor, is one who conveys property to another.

Trustee
A trustee is one who stands in a fiduciary or confidential relation to another, especially one who, having legal title to property, holds it in trust for the benefit of another and owes a fiduciary duty to that beneficiary.

Beneficiary
A beneficiary is a person for whose benefit property is held in trust, especially one designated to benefit from an appointment, disposition, or assignment, or to receive something as a result of a legal arrangement or instrument.

Property
Property under the law is the right to possess, use, and enjoy a determinate thing (either land or chattel, i.e. an item); the right of ownership.

Funding
Funding under the law is the provision or allocation of money for a specific purpose, such as for a pension plan or a trust, by putting the money into a reserve fund or investments.

Executor
Generally, an executor is one who performs or carries out some act. A legal definition of an executor is a person named by the testator to carry out the provisions in the testator’s will.

Quitclaim Deed
A quitclaim deed is a deed that conveys a grantor’s complete interest or claim in certain real property by that neither warrants nor professes that the title is valid.

Affidavit
While there are many different types of affidavits, in general, an affidavit is a voluntary declaration of facts written down and sworn to bey the declarant before an officer authorized to administer oaths.

Agent
An agent is one who is authorized to act for or in place of another.

Attorney-in-Fact
Strictly, an attorney-in-fact is one who is designated to transact business for another; a legal agent. This definition can also be applied to attorney as well.

Disinheritance
Disinheritance is the act by which an owner of an estate deprives a would-be heir of the expectancy to inherit the estate.

Incorporation
Incorporation is the formation of a legal corporation.

Witness
A witness is one who sees, knows, or vouches for something such as being a witness to a testator’s signature. A witness is also one who gives testimony under oath or affirmation either in person, by a written or oral deposition, or by an affidavit.


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