Q: I am trying to get my affairs in order and am somewhat confused by some of the terms associated with wills and trusts. Could you provide definitions for those terms?

A: If preparing a will is part of your plan, you should know the meaning of testator, executor, heir, issue, minor, codicil and probate.

A testator is the person, you, who makes a will. An executor is the person you name in the will to carry out the provisions and directions of your will after your death.

An heir is a person who inherits or is legally entitled to inherit under state law. The term “issue” generally means your children and grandchildren and includes adopted children.

A minor is any person under the age of legal competence, which in California is 18.

You should also understand the words “codicil” and “probate.” A codicil is a document that modifies the will and must be executed in the same manner as the will it addresses.

Probate is a court process that protects the heirs from fraud and embezzlement, ensures outstanding debts are paid and sees that all federal, state and local taxes are paid by the estate. Probate starts when the will is admitted to the probate court and ends after all debts are paid and assets accounted for and distributed.

If your plans include a trust, you must be familiar with these terms: settlor, trustor, grantor, grantee, trustee and intervivos, revocable and testamentary trusts.

The terms “settlor,” “trustor” and “grantor” are interchangeable and refer to the person who is creating the trust that grants the contents of the trust to another who is known as the grantee.

A trustee is the named individual or corporation having the powers spelled out in the trust to carry out the wishes of the creator.

An intervivos trust is a trust created between living people and also is known as a living trust. It is usually revocable, which means it can be changed or revoked by the person who created it.

A testamentary trust comes into being only as a result of the death of a person whose will provides for the creation of the trust after death.

I hope these definitions have been of some help. Remember that estate planning covers more than just having a will or trust. Check into other areas of concern while completing your estate planning and seek professional assistance when creating these documents.

Q: Will this year’s Medicare annual open enrollment period start in October this year?

A: Yes. Open enrollment, when you can change your Medicare coverage, will run from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7.

Just before and during the first few weeks of that period there will be seminars throughout the county to explain what you will need to know for 2015. There will also be one-stop shops throughout the county to help you select a Part D plan for prescription drugs.

This column will list the times and locations of the seminars and one-stop shops, so stay tuned.


Aug. 21: Boomer Bootcamp — “Long Live Rock & Roll: Elder Rock “n” Roll Musicians Reflect on Aging,” 7 p.m., Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza Scherr Forum Theatre, 2100 Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks. Roy Earnest, a gerontological social worker, will speak about overcoming the challenges of aging augmented with interview clips from the musicians. Tickets are $30 and available at Senior Concerns 497-0189 or https://www.seniorconcerns.org.

Aug. 24: History Comes Alive — “Eleanor, Lucy and the Man in the Middle: A perspective on FDR,” 1 p.m., Goebel Adult Community Center, 1385 E. Janss Road, Thousand Oaks. Martha Abbey Miller will discuss historical figures. Tickets are $5 and available at the center.

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