A – C
The financial term accounting may be present in a Last Will. Specifically, accounting is complementary to a Trust that you may have set up for your children. You may require that the Trustee provides proof of their financial activities of managing the Trust. This proof is the accounting and the Trustee needs to share it with the Trust beneficiaries.
An affidavit is a sworn statement. You may be familiar with the oral version of such sworn statements at courts, when people swear to attest the truth. An affidavit is essentially the written version of that. For the vast majority of countries and states it’s not necessary to include an affidavit in their Last Will. In most cases an affidavit speeds up the probate process.
A bequest, or specific bequest, is a financial and legal term. It is a set of instructions regarding a specific asset. The instructions describe exactly who should receive that asset. For example, if you would like your guitar to end up with your best friend you can make a bequest regarding this specific asset.
Specific bequests may include tangible personal property and digital assets. Additionally, you can sometimes donate to charities through specific bequests. Bequests usually take place before the distribution of any other assets, but after the executor has paid any debts.
Beneficiary – Definition
This refers to the person, or in some cases organization, that benefits from your Last Will. In other words, a beneficiary is someone that receives your tangible or digital assets after your passing. There are also multiple types of beneficiaries.
Beneficiary – Types
There are many kinds of beneficiaries. A sole beneficiary is the only individual who inherits property. Having several beneficiaries means that there are multiple individuals who will inherit property according to your Last Will. Sometimes the original beneficiaries cannot or will not inherit the property. In that case, there usually is an alternate sole beneficiary. Alternatively, there might be multiple alternate beneficiaries instead.
A bond, or surety bond, adds a measure of accountability on the executor(s) or trustee(s). This aims to ensure that they will faithfully carry out your wishes without abusing their power. A bond is a way of protecting your property. However, it is important to remember that it can be quite expensive to enforce a bond.
See also: Fiduciary
A codicil is a supplement or additional paragraph of your Last Will. It alters or even revokes certain details of the Will. People often choose to make a new Last Will instead of adding codicils. In most cases a Last Will starts with the person officially revoking their previously signed Wills and codicils.
Court of Competent Jurisdiction
A court of competent jurisdiction is a specialized court. In the context of Last Wills, it often refers to a family or probate court. This court has jurisdiction, or in other words, legal authority in a specific field of the law.
Cremation is a form of disposing of remains by burning them. It has existed since ancient times and is still the predominant form of remains disposition in many cultures. Open-air pyres are more traditional and rare, while most funeral homes offer cremation options, usually using a furnace. The grieving family eventually receives the cremation ashes so they can bury or scatter them.
See also: Traditional Burial, Green Burial, Mausoleum
D – E
This refers to electronic assets, such as passwords, usernames and other online account details. Moreover, they may also include digital media and documents. A description of a digital asset often comes with instructions. This way your digital executor knows how they should manage the digital asset.
The opposite of a digital asset is tangible property, which basically refers to physical assets.
A directive is a clause similar to a provision, a paragraph or Article of your Last Will. It usually indicates that this segment of the Will is focusing on certain instructions regarding a part of your property. An example of that is a Pet Care Directive.
See also: Provisions
This general umbrella term refers to the net worth of a person. In other words, it is the entirety of this individual’s assets, tangible and digital. This also includes both real estate and personal property.
See also: Estate Administration Definition & Types
Estate Administration – Definition
This refers to the way the executor distributes your estate according to your wishes. Moreover, estate administration can refer to any sort of estate management including settling matters.
See also: Estate Administration – Types
Estate Administration – Types
There are generally two kinds of administration regarding your estate, independent and dependent administration.
In independent administration the executor manages your estate in an informal manner. For instance, they may require no court supervision while they are distributing your estate. This means that independent administration avoids any unnecessary interventions by the probate court.
On the contrary, dependent administration refers to the executor managing your estate in a supervised manner. That means that the probate court may interfere if it considers that supervision is necessary.
Executor – Definition
An executor is the person that carries out the terms that you have set up in your Will. In other words, you nominate an executor that will follow the instructions of your Last Will. Note that depending on your country, state or province, you may use the term personal representative instead. Certain countries or states may also have additional requirements. For instance, one of your executors may need to live in the same state or country as you.
See also: Executor – Types, Fiduciary, Bond
Executor – Types
There are many kinds of Executors. A Sole Executor is someone who you nominate to carry out the terms of your Last Will alone. Co-Executors refers to two individuals who you nominate to carry out the terms of your Will together. The Co-Executors will have to work together so you may have to take that into consideration.
An Alternate Sole Executor is someone who carries out the terms of your Last Will if the Executor(s) will not or is unable to. Note that you do not have to always name an Alternate Executor. If two individuals carry out the terms of your Last Will if the Executor(s) will not or is unable to, they are called Alternate Co-Executors. The Alternate Co-Executors will have to work together so you may have to take that into consideration.
A Digital Executor carries out the terms of your Last Will that relate to your Digital Assets. Note that all the above categories of Executors exist also for Digital Executors (Digital Sole Executor, Digital Co-Executors etc).
Finally, if you do not wish that the Executor is limited or supervised by probate court involvement during the process of carrying out your wishes and instructions you can specify that in your Last Will. Such a person is called an Independent Executor. If you do wish that the Executor is limited or supervised by probate court involvement then your Executor will be Dependent.
See also: Estate Administration – Definition & Types
Fiduciary is a general legal term, mainly present in the expression fiduciary duty.
An individual having a fiduciary duty essentially acts in the best interest of someone else – in most cases financially speaking. The individual charged with a fiduciary duty is simply a fiduciary. Correspondingly, the other person that benefits from that duty is a beneficiary.
Examples of fiduciaries are the executors of a Will and the trustees of Trust.
Green or natural burial refers to a specific burial that takes place in the most natural way possible. That means that nobody has embalmed the body beforehand. Additionally, funeral homes do everything possible to make sure that the body can decompose in natural and eco-friendly ways. For example, instead of a traditional coffin, some people choose a biodegradable shroud or no container at all.
See also: Traditional Burial, Cremation, Mausoleum
A Guardian is a person that you have nominated in your Last Will. Essentially, they have full custody – or guardianship of your minor children. In other words, they take care of your children that have not yet reached adulthood. Usually this refers to children below 18 years but this might depend on state or national laws.
See also: Guardian – Types
Guardian – Types
There can be many kinds of Guardians. A sole Guardian is a person who you nominate in your Last Will to take care of your minor children until they legally become adults. Co-Guardians refers to nominating two individuals instead. Note also that co-Guardians need to almost always live in the same city or town. Additionally, most courts or governments prefer to appoint married couples as Guardians.
An alternate sole Guardian is a single individual taking over the guardianship of your children. This happens if the original Guardian(s) cannot or will not serve according to your nomination. If two people take over instead, they are alternate co-Guardians. Again, most courts have a clear preference for married couples regarding guardianship.
These are the people that would automatically receive your property after your passing. Who are these exactly, and how they will receive your property may vary depending on National or State laws. In other words, your heirs-at-law are the people who automatically inherit your estate, even if there is no Last Will. Additionally, if there is a Will, it’s usually the heirs-at-law who have a better chance of contesting it.
See also: Right of Representation
A humanist celebrant is a person that officiates non-religious rituals, including funerals. They are certified to be in charge of the ceremony. Humanist celebrants often need to be familiar with the life of the deceased in order to personalize their funeral services.
See also: Living Funeral
I – N
A living funeral doesn’t take place for a deceased, but for a living person. Living funerals are usually for people who don’t have a lot of time left. They often function as a way to process one’s approaching passing. At the same time, they allow for the family and close friends to reconcile with their loved one’s passing. A living funeral usually combines somber elements of a traditional funeral with more upbeat and happier components.
See also: Humanist Celebrant, Traditional Burial
A mausoleum is a building surrounding one or more tombs. It can be very grand such as the Taj Mahal in India, or more humble like the ones found in many cemeteries around the world. Additionally, sometimes people store their loved ones’ bones or urn with cremated ashes in a mausoleum. A mausoleum may also include underground vaults, or crypts.
See also: Green Burial, Traditional Burial, Cremation
In many legal systems there are two kinds of legal persons (or entities): a juridical person and a natural person. A natural person is a human legal entity, or in other words a physical person, an actual human. A juridical legal person refers to non-human legal entities such corporations, organizations and government agencies.
See also: Executor – Definition & Types, Trustee – Definition & Types
O – P
Prepaid Funeral Plan
A prepaid funeral plan is a set of arrangements you usually make with a funeral home. It focuses on your preferences and wishes regarding your funeral. As the name indicates, you have to pay for the plan before you pass away. It often aims to reduce stress for your relatives, but also to ensure that your funeral matches your personality.
A probate court is a specific kind of court that specializes in the administration and distribution of property. Such courts are in charge of checking the legitimacy of Wills and making sure the Will Executors are faithful to their duties. The involvement of the probate court during the probate process may heavily vary. It might just be singing some documents or the court might be more controlling and hands-on.
You can read more on this topic in our posts about probate, its duration and how to speed it up.
The probate process, or just probate, is essentially the procedure that takes place when you pass away. Specifically, it starts when your Will has been opened to when your executor has completely distributed your property. The probate process typically involves a probate court. It could last anything from six months to three years. This depends on the amount and value of the assets present in the Will.
You can read more on this topic in our posts about probate, its duration and how to speed it up.
Most Last Wills include two kinds of property: personal and real property. Personal property refers to moveable belongings, such as a guitar. Real property includes not moveable assets such as houses.
Additionally, you may have tangible personal property or digital personal property.
A provision is a clause or paragraph in a legal document or contract. In simple words, a provision in the context of your Last Will is a statement. Specifically, it often clarifies whether something has to take place or has to not take place. A good example might be a no-contest provision: it is a statement that explicitly dictates what should happen if someone contests your Last Will.
See also: Directives
Q – R
Residuary estate refers to the portion of your estate that remains after certain processes are over. First off, your estate should pay all your health and funeral bills. Secondly, you may have unpaid taxes and additional bills. Funds from your estate will cover this too. Next, your executor carries out your bequests. Whatever portion of your estate remains after all these tasks, is your residue or residuary estate.
See also: Estate, Estate Administration – Definition
Right of Disposition of Remains
This refers to the right of a person to choose what will happen to their remains after they pass away. If no clear instructions have been given, then it’s close family members that decide how the remains should be disposed of.
Right of Representation
Also known as per stirpes, the right of representation refers to the premature death of a beneficiary. Specifically it describes what happens with their share if they have passed away before the distribution of their share. The descendants, then, of this beneficiary have the right to receive the asset or share.
For instance, let’s assume you left a share of your estate to your child which died before you. Let’s also assume that this child has children of their own. These children (your grandchildren) may have the right to claim the original share by right of representation.
See also: Heirs-at-law
Right of Survivorship
The right of survivorship applies to an estate if there are multiple people owning it. Specifically, if there are co-owners, the tenant that survives the other will inherit the deceased’s share. Not all forms of joint ownership of property can or will necessarily include the right of survivorship, though. Examples of shared ownership that does include the right of survivorship are: joint tenancy and, to a lesser extent, and tenancy in common.
The right of survivorship can be particularly useful in relation to probate proceedings. Specifically, if the right of survivorship applies to an asset, the surviving tenant will automatically receive it. This asset, thus, will most likely not be part of probate.
S – T
A spouse is a gender-neutral term that refers to the person you have married. Depending on national or state laws and regulations, this may extend to include your registered domestic partner. Such partners in California, for instance, often have the same legal rights as a spouse. We recommend that you check national and local laws in order to be sure about who you can name as your spouse in your Last Will.
See also: Heirs-at-law
Tangible Personal Property
Tangible property refers to belongings that are not digital assets. In other words, tangible property is physical property. Additionally, personal property explicitly refers to moveable property – so not real estate.
The person that creates a Last Will is called a Testator. It is their assets and estate that the executor distributes to beneficiaries. This is going to take place according to the instructions they provide with their Last Will.
Burial is one of the most common practices of disposing of human remains. Burials, or interment or inhumation, have been a pillar of death practices since ancient times. Traditionally, burials take place in the ground although other versions exist as well. Other forms of burial include sky or water burials.
See also: Cremation, Green Burial, Mausoleum
A trust is a fiduciary relationship between a trustee and a beneficiary. That means that the person in charge of certain assets (the trustee) will be able to manage, invest and distribute any assets included within the trust. This should, of course, take place in the best interest of the beneficiaries. People usually set up a trust for the children. That is also the case with Myend’s Will Planner that allows you to set up your Children’s Trust.
There are various conditions a trust can include such as the age that your benefiting children must reach before they are allowed to fully access their part of the Trust. Every trust also has two basic components: The trust income and the trust principal. The trust principal refers to all of the property that can produce the trust income. Examples of trust income are interests and rents.
Trustee – Definition
A trustee is a person who is familiar with your trust and that is going to carry its terms. A trustee should be someone that you trust that will follow your wishes and act in the best interest of the trust’s beneficiaries. If you want to read more on the different types of trustees, have a look here.
Trustee – Types
There are many kinds of Trustees. A Sole Trustee is someone who carries out the terms of your Trust alone. Two individuals carrying out the terms of your Trust together are called Co-Trustees. The Co-Trustees may have to work together, something for you to keep in mind since you want to choose people who can work well together.
A Replacement Co-Trustee is someone that replaces one of the Co-Trustees in case they cannot or will not serve. This is not to be confused with a Successor Trustee. A successor Trustee functions as the second point of original reference after the Trustees. They are called to serve the terms of the Trust if the Trustee(s) cannot or will not serve. You can appoint two people here instead of one. These are called Co-Successor Trustees. If any of these two cannot or will not serve, you can appoint a Replacement Co-Successor Trustee.
Finally, there are also Corporate Trustees. Such a Trustee is usually a bank or a company that specializes in Trust management.
U – Z
A Will has many alternative names such as Last Will and Testament or Last Will. It is a legally binding document that allows your surviving significant others to know your wishes regarding your belongings. Specifically, it includes instructions about how the executor should distribute your estate to beneficiaries.
See also: Codicil, Directives, Provision
A Last Will’s witness is an individual that verifies the validity of your Last Will. In other words, this is a person that is present when you are signing your Last Will. They have to prove that by signing the same document in the presence of each other as well. In recent years this may also take place online in some areas.
Usually a Will needs signatures from two witnesses (three in some cases) to be valid. Note that the exact number of witnesses necessary for the Will to be considered valid may vary depending on National or State laws. Make sure you check your local or national legislation to be sure that your Last Will is valid.
See also: Witnessing other Myend Documents, and our Academy posts, who is a good witness & witnessing a document
Witnessing other Myend Documents
By asking witnesses to sign your Myend documents you are asking them to confirm that these documents are actually yours. More importantly, with your witness’ signature you make it clear to everyone else too that these are indeed your wishes. In other words, a witness’ signature is a testament that these wishes and instructions are indeed yours.
Myend Documents include your Advance Care Plan, Funeral Plan, Organ Donation and Euthanasia Plan. For such non-legally binding documents, your options are quite broad. It could be a relative that witnesses it, a medical professional or a close friend. It’s advisable that your witness is not the same person as the designated decision-maker or beneficiary.
See also: Will witnessing and our Academy posts, who is a good witness & witnessing a document.