QUESTION: 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?
ANSWER: An excellent question. I’ll try to define some of the most common terms that you will likely encounter. Some may be very familiar while others may be completely new and some may have a slightly different meaning than you have been using.
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 named by you 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 any adopted children you may have.
A minor is any person under the age of legal competence. In California the age of legal competence is 18.
You should also understand the words codicil and probate. A codicil is a document that modifies the will itself and must be executed in the same manner as the will it addresses.
Probate is a court process that has the purpose of protecting the heirs from fraud and embezzlement, ensures that any 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, assets accounted for and distributed.
If your plans include a trust then you must be familiar with the 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 also known as a living trust and is usually revocable which means it can be changed or revoked by the person who created it.
A testamentary trust is one that 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. Please make sure to check into other areas of concern while completing your estate planning and seek professional assistance when creating these documents.
TUESDAY – August 6 – 10:00 am to 12 noon – free balance screening for “A Matter of Balance” class at Simi Valley Senior Center, 3900 Avenida Simi in Simi Valley. No reservations necessary for the free screening.
SUNDAY – August 11 – Doors Open at 5:00 pm – Charity Karaoke – “Sing for a Cause” – at the Canyon Agoura Hills, 2890 Roadside Drive, Agoura Hills. Tickets are available at charity karaoke. org and at the Canyon box office.
TUESDAY – August 13 – 10:00 am to 12 noon – Senior Concerns’ Path to Positive Aging Series – Presentation – “Meeting the Challenge of Solo Aging”, Dr. Sara Zeff Geber PhD will facilitate this workshop for those who are single, married without children or have children who live far away – at Simi Valley Senior Center- the presentation is free but reservations are required and can be made at (805) 583-6363.
SUNDAY – August 18 – 3:00 to 4:30 pm – Presentation – History Comes Alive – “Shaping the Conejo: A Local History Lesson” – Jeanella Bernard will examine the various forces that helped shape the development of the Conejo Valley – at Goebel Senior Center, 1385 E Janss Road in Thousand Oaks. Tickets are $7.00.
Betty Berry is a senior advocate for Senior Concerns. The advocates are located at the Goebel Adult Community Center, 1385 E. Janss Road, Thousand Oaks, CA 91362 or call (805) 495-6250 or e-mail (please include your telephone number.) You are invited to submit questions on senior issues.

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