Most of the time, clients become unclear about using the proper legal terms in estate planning, and for good reason—the terms are confusing. The most common example I hear is when people talk about wanting to name an “Executor of My Will.” However, this is not quite the proper term that should be used.
The law has different names for different fiduciaries, that is, the person or persons designated to “be in charge” in an estate planning document. Here’s a simple list of terms to help clarify:
- A “trustee” is the person who manages a living trust for another person or another person’s estate.
- An “executor” is the person who administers a last will and testament for a decedent.
- An “attorney-in-fact” is the person who manages financial matters for another person through a durable power of attorney.
- A health care “agent” makes health care decisions for another person through an advance health care directive.
To make these terms even more complicated, in court, an “administrator” is appointed to manage an estate without an estate plan, and an “executor” is appointed to manage an estate with a last will and testament.
Is this confusing enough for you? To simplify, if you cannot remember whether you have an “executor of my will” or not when in doubt, I recommend using general terms like “fiduciary” or “personal representative.
The Law Offices of Tony J. Tyre, Esq., APC does not charge for initial estate planning consultations. To schedule an appointment, please call 626-858-9378 or visit www.tyrelawgroup.com