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A Quick Guide to Estate Planning Terms

Join us today as we outline and define vital estate planning terms that you need to know if you are beginning your estate planning journey. These terms will also be useful if you have already established estate planning tools, and are facing conflicts that require legal action. 

As a lawyer from the leading litigation law firm Bethesda, MD Brown Kiely, LLP can explain, those who are new to estate planning will benefit from first familiarizing themselves with these fundamental concepts of various planning processes. Either way, we hope this guide will help you develop a basic estate planning vocabulary to use when discussing your plans with lawyers, others who are involved, and if issues arise within the plans.

Estate Planning: Estate planning describes a wide variety of ongoing processes and tools that establish a framework that formally denote how the affairs of an individual are to be managed and administered under various predefined scenarios, such as after their death or incapacitation. The goal is to provide a concise set of instructions so that there is no guesswork in the event of death or incapacitation. 

Estate Planning Documents and Processes

Wills, trusts, funeral arrangements and powers of attorney are all tools leveraged in estate planning processes. By drawing from your estate planning toolkit, one can effectively ensure that their legacy is preserved after their inevitable passing.

Parties Involved in Estate Planning

When discussing estate plans, it is essential to know the meaning of terms used to describe the people who are involved and named. Typically the processes involve the following people or parties:

Individual: the person who owns and takes the steps to establish an estate plan for documenting how they wish their assets to be distributed following death or incapacitation. Assets may include but are not limited to real estate, stocks, real property, valuables, pensions and debt.

Estate Planning Lawyer: A lawyer that focuses their practice in the area of planning estates. The estate planning lawyer has an integral role in offering recommendations and advice regarding the tools and processes an individual can utilize to help accomplish their goals. The advice and direction of an experienced lawyer is essential in ensuring the plans are developed in accordance with local laws and that an individual’s wishes and goals are satisfied. 

Executor: A person that is approved by a court that will be granted the responsibility executing the terms stated in an estate plan. 

Beneficiaries: People who are named in the estate plan that will benefit from it. For example, a grandchild, or spouse. An estate plan may dictate how property is distributed to their beneficiaries at a specific point or event in time. 

Wills: A fundamental component of the most basic estate plan. A will states basic property and asset distribution wishes, typically after death.

Estate Litigation Lawyer: Sometimes conflicts do arise within estate planning processes. If conflicts do arise, it is the role of an estate litigation lawyer to assist the involved parties with finding a legal resolution for the conflict.

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