Legal Lingo: Good to know!

Agent: The person named in a power of attorney to act on the principals behalf. Sometimes called an attorney-in-fact. It is extinguished at death.

Beneficiary Deed: A revocable deed designating persons to receive your Colorado real estate while avoiding probate.

Codicil: An amendment to a will.

Community property: In general, assets a married person acquires during the person=s marriage and while living in a community property state.

Conservatorship: A court proceeding in which a judge names a person or organization (the conservator) to take control of and manage the financial affairs of an incapacitated person.

Estate administration: Sorting out what happens to a persons assets after the person dies.

Estate tax: A tax on assets given to others when a person dies. No tax is due until the giver has used up his or her estate tax exemption amount (currently $5.25 Million).

Executor: The person the judge approves in a probate to sort out the pro­bate estate, deal with debts and distribute assets. In Colorado, called the administrator or personal representative.

Gift tax: A tax on gifts made while the giver is alive. No tax is due until the giver has used up his or her lifetime gift tax exemption amount.

Grantor: The person creating and signing a trust. Sometimes called the settler or trustor.

Guardianship: A court proceeding in which a judge names a person to deal with personal and medical affairs of an incapacitated person.

Holographic will: A will where all material provisions are in the testators handwriting.

Intestate: A person who dies without a valid will is Aintestate.@ The intestate person has failed to indicate who will receive assets in his or her probate estate.

Life estate deed: An irrevocable deed transferring the remainder of real estate upon owners death. A probate avoider.

Living Trust: An estate planning document used to transfer assets at death while avoiding probate.

Medicaid: A combined Federal and State program that pays for care ser­vices (nursing homes) for people whose assets are within financial limits.

Medicare: A federal program that provides health insurance for individu­als who have certain disabilities or are 65 or older.

Pour-over will: A simplified will that directs that any probate estate assets transfer at death (pour over) to trust ownership. Used with a living trust.

Power of attorney for financial and property matters: A legal document in which you name one or more agents to manage financial and property affairs for you while living.

Power of attorney for medical care: A legal document in which you name one or more agents to make care and treatment decisions for you while living.

Principal: The person who signs a power of attorney giving another per­son responsibility.

Probate: A court proceeding to pass the probate estate of a deceased per­son to his or her heirs.

Probate avoider: An arrangement (beneficiary naming, joint tenancy, pay-on-death account, revocable trust, etc.) used by a person during lifetime that removes an asset from his or her probate estate.

Separate property: Typically, assets a married person inherits or receives as a gift, or that were owned by the married person before the marriage. They must be kept separate from community property.

SSD: Social Security Disability, a disability program for those 65 years or younger. SSI: Supplemental Security Income, an income assistance pro­gram for people who are 65 or older, blind or disabled, with low assets and low income.

Testator/Testatrix: The person who creates and signs a will. Testator is masculine, testatrix is feminine.

Trustee: The person named in a trust to be in charge of trust assets.

Will: An estate planning document used to name the executor and who will receive the probate estate.

Tamra K. Waltemath

This article was written by Tamra K Waltemath of Tamra K. Waltemath, P.C. This information is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. For specific questions, you should consult a qualified attorney. Tamra K. Waltemath is an elder law attorney focusing on wills, trusts, estate and trust administration, probate and non-probate transfers, guardianships and conservatorships. She can be contacted at: Tamra K. Waltemath, P.C., 3843 West 73rd Avenue, Westminster, CO 80030; 303-657-0360; or visit her website at:

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