Glossary of Elder Law and Estate Planning Terms

Elder Law Terms

Child Health Plus

A reduced-price health insurance plan for children under the age of 18.

Dual Eligibility

Eligibility for both major government healthcare assistance programs: Medicare and Medicaid.

Elder Law

A subset of the legal practice specifically concerned with issues that impact the elderly.

Home Care

Assistance for seniors to live comfortably in their own homes.

Individual Retirement Account (IRA)

A savings account that grows over time, intended for retirement funds

Life Insurance

An insurance policy that pays out a planned sum of money if the policy-holder dies.

Managed Long-Term Care

Assistance for the elderly or disabled to live comfortably in their own homes.

Medicaid

A government program designed to help those with low incomes pay for healthcare.

Medicaid Planning

Legal assistance for those planning to apply for Medicaid.

Nursing Home Planning

Legal and financial assistance for those planning to enter a nursing home.

Senior Citizens

People over the age of 65.

Estate Planning Terms

Assets

An individual’s money and possessions that are worth money.

Durable Power of Attorney

An agreement giving someone else permission to make important decisions for you in case you can’t make them yourself.

Estate Planning

Deciding how one’s money and possessions are going to be passed on to other people after one dies.

Estate

The total value of everything someone owns—this is also called net worth.

Estate Plan

A set of legal documents describing how one’s money and possessions are going to be passed on to other people after one dies.

Estate Tax

A portion of money taken out of a deceased person’s estate by the government before their money and possessions are passed on to other people.

Healthcare Power of Attorney

An agreement giving someone else permission to make important healthcare decisions for you in case you can’t make them yourself.

Wills Terms

Administration of Estates

The process wherein a qualified individual makes decisions about what will happen to a deceased person’s money and possessions if they didn’t make a legal will before they died.

Estate Litigation

A legal debate over how to interpret a deceased person’s will, particularly over who should get their money.

Intestate

A person who dies without making a legal will.

Letters of Testamentary

Court documents which give a particular person the power to decide what happens to a deceased person’s money and possessions.

Probate

The long court process of proving that a will is legitimate.

Surrogate’s Court

A court that specifically deals with wills and how deceased people’s money and possessions are passed on.

Tenancy by the Entirety

Joint ownership of a piece of property where each person technically owns 100% of the property in order to keep possession of it if the other person dies.

Tenants in Common

Joint ownership of property where each person owns a specific portion, meaning if one person dies, their portion doesn’t automatically go to the other person.

General Legal Terms

Beneficiary

Someone, or an organization, who will get money or property from your will, trust, insurance policy, retirement plan, annuity, or other contract.

Codicil

A document containing changes to a will.

Decedent

A person who has passed away.

Donor’s Tax

A tax on a gift.

Executor

A person designated by the author of a will to carry out the will.

Living Will

A will which states your exact wishes regarding your estate should you have certain medical conditions.

Testator

Someone who has already made a will.

The “Sound Mind” Requirement

This is the requirement that the person who has died knows three things: what he owns, who his family is, and what his will states.

Will

A legal document in which you can state who shall receive your wealth. You can also use a will to appoint guardians for minors.

Trusts Terms

Decanting (of a trust)

This is when the assets in one trust are placed into another one.

Fiduciary

A person who has the legal power to act on behalf of someone else, usually in their interest.

Trust

There are many types of trust. They are a tool to help you manage your money during your lifetime and smoothly transfer it after you die.

Dynasty Trust

A type of trust designed for the passing on of wealth for multiple generations without incurring transfer taxes.

Special Needs Trusts

This is a “first-party” trust, meaning that it is created by the beneficiary. It is designed to hold the assets of the beneficiary while allowing them to receive public benefits.

Irrevocable Trust

A trust that needs the consent of all parties involved in order to be revoked, including the beneficiaries.

Pooled Income Trust

This type of trust enables beneficiaries to receive benefits like Medicaid while using their income for living expenses.

Revocable Living Trust

A trust that may be revoked by the person who set it up.

Trustee

A person or institution who manages assets set aside by a trust. They must follow the instructions in the trust.

Trustor/Grantor

Someone who makes a trust.

Probate Terms

Attorney

Someone who has been appointed to act on someone else’s behalf in business or legal matters.

Felony

A crime that the law had designated to be particularly serious, and usually worthy of punishment.

Grand Larceny

The stealing of an individual’s possessions.

Lawyer

Someone who practices law, usually after earning a law degree.

Litigant

Any person involved in a lawsuit.