To those who have no experience with estate planning, some of the terms used can make the process seem like it’s written in a foreign language. Though unfamiliar, most of these terms are not difficult to understand. However, some terms are interchangeable and may have slightly different meanings depending on how they are used or the state in which you live. Talk to an attorney if you have specific questions about the any estate planning terminology.
Estate: If you take everything you own and lump it all together, this is your estate. Some people confuse the term estate to mean a large home or property. While this version of the word is sometimes used to describe such properties, in estate planning circles the term is more generally used to refer to all a person’s property.
Testator: The term “testator” is often used to refer to both males and females who create a Last Will and Testament , much in the same way “actor” is used to refer to both male and female performers.
Holographic Will: A holographic will has nothing to do with a hologram or an image. It is a kind of will in which the testator creates the will entirely in his own handwriting. Unlike other wills, testators do not have to have a holographic will witnessed by others in order for it to be legal.
Intestacy: If a person dies without a will, that person is said to have died intestate. Intestacy is the condition of an estate that is not covered by a will. To resolve who receives the estate property, each state has intestacy laws that apply in this situation.
Executor: When you create a will, you typically nominate a person who will actually redistribute property after you die. This person is known as an executor, if male, and an executrix, if female. Some states may use executor as a gender-neutral term, though the position may also be referred to as an estate administrator or personal representative.