Legal Definitions in Probate

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If you are dealing with a probate matter or you are preparing your estate plan, you are likely to encounter several terms that are unfamiliar to you. This is to be expected if you have not been required to handle probate matters. It can be a little overwhelming as attorneys, court staff, and judges begin using legal terminology that you may not fully understand.

As experienced Dayton, OH probate attorneys, we understand. Below are some common legal terms used in estate planning and in the probate process. If you have additional questions, we urge you to contact our office to speak with one of our Dayton probate attorneys.

Common Terms Used In Estate Planning And By The Probate Court

Beneficiary – A person or legal entity you designate to receive a specific piece of property or other benefit. For example, you name a beneficiary for life insurance policies and some retirement accounts. The asset passes directly to the beneficiary at your death without going through probate.

Conservatorship – A judge appoints a person to manage the assets of another person who is unable to take care of himself. This is used when a minor inherits property or an adult is not competent to manage his or her own affairs.

Contest A Will – The legal process of objecting to the validity of a will or the terms contained in the will.

Durable Power Of Attorney – A general power of attorney giving someone the authority to act on your behalf regarding your financial affairs. The “durable” clause makes the power of attorney valid even if you become incapacitated.

Estate – This refers to the assets you own at the time of your death. Your estate includes all of your real and personal property.

Estate Planning – The process of analyzing your assets and financial situation to determine the best way to protect yourself, your family, and your property. A Dayton, OH estate planning attorney can review the documents available and discuss the benefits of each type of estate document.

Guardianship – A person who is appointed to care for a minor child or an adult who is incapacitated.

Health Care Power Of Attorney – Appoints an agent to act on your behalf to make medical and health care decisions for you.

Intestate – When a person dies without a will, the legal term is intestate. If you do not have a will when you die, Ohio’s intestate laws determine who can inherit your property. The intestate laws also determine the percentage of property each person will receive.

Irrevocable Trust – This type of trust provides certain advantages; however, the terms of the trust cannot be modified in most cases.

Last Will and Testament – Typically referred to as a “will,” this document sets forth your instruction for how your estate should be distributed upon your death. You name your heirs and direct how your property will be divided among your heirs. You may also name a trustee and/or guardian for minor children. One of the most serious estate planning mistakes you can make is not having a will.

Living Trust – A living trust is used during your lifetime to transfer title to some or all of your assets to the trust. You can serve as the trustee of your living trust. At your death, the property is distributed according to the terms of the trust.

Living Will – A living will is a document that explains your choices for life support and other medical treatments and/or procedures if you are terminally ill, in an irreversible coma, or in a persistent vegetative state. You can also appoint someone to act as your agent to enforce the choices you make in your living will.

Power Of Attorney – A written document authorizing a person to act on your behalf regarding certain financial transactions. You can limit the power of attorney to specific transactions or you can grant a general power of attorney. A general power of attorney allows your agent to perform any financial transaction you can legally perform yourself.

Probate – Probate is the process of administering a person’s estate. The probate court oversees the administration of each estate.

Probate Court – A special court that has the jurisdiction to oversee estate matters. The probate court also handles conservatorships, guardianships, and marriage licenses.

Special Needs Trust – A specific trust established to fund the care and upkeep of a person who is mentally ill, physically disabled, or otherwise incapacitated.

Testamentary Trust – A trust included in your will that appoints a trustee to administer the inheritance of an heir. Testamentary trusts are often used to protect a minor child’s inheritance until he or she reaches a certain age specified in the trust.

Do You Need Assistance With A Probate Matter?

You may have additional questions regarding estate planning and probate matters. Our Dayton, OH probate attorneys can answer all of your questions.

Contact Lovett & Lovett by calling (937) 429-7730 to speak with an experienced probate lawyer.

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