Elder Law Glossary
Understanding Elder Law can be very confusing. We have compiled a comprehensive list of the most commonly used terms surrounding elder law to help navigate you toward a smoother journey when planning for what is ahead.
An Administrator refers to the individual designated to collect the assets of the estate, paying any remaining debts that the deceased may have accrued, and administering the remains of the estate, following the probate laws designated by the state.
An Advanced Directive refers to the necessary documents that inform your caretakers and family members your wishes regarding your long-term medical care in the event that you are unable to. This can include a living will and a health care proxy.
An Agent refers to an insurance agent, who can provide information on what insurance may be necessary to meet the needs of the assets acquired. They can sort through the ins and outs of life insurance and how it can be used to preserve the liquidity of an estate, as well as utilize life insurance to create an estate by forging a special needs trust.
An Assignment refers to a general assignment, and that is a document that moves certain assets into the confines of a trust.
Assisted Living facilities are housing alternatives for older adults, who do not require the intense nursing care, nor medical assistance that a nursing home provides. It allows the adult living at the facility to be a part of a community while maintaining the independence of bathing, eating, dressing, and toileting without assistance.
Beneficiaries are individuals who are eligible to acquire an allotment from a life insurance policy, will, or trust. They are named specifically in the documents or have met the stipulations necessary to receive their distribution.
A Bequest is an act of giving assets through an estate plan or will.
Capacity, in the legal context, refers to the ability to understand the consequences of his or her actions. Those without capacity cannot enter into a contract, make a will, give Power of Attorney, consent to medical decisions, or transfer assets or property.
A Codicil is a written addendum to a will, modifying certain parameters of a will or changing how a will is carried out.
A Conservatorship is a court-appointed proceeding responsible for managing financial affairs and the personal care of someone who has died or is incapacitated. The conservatorship shifts the decision-making responsibility from the conservatee to the conservator.
A Death Certificate is an official legal document issued by the government that offers the identity of the deceased individual, their age, and their sex while offering certified proof of the time, place, and cause of death. is an official legal document issued by the government that offers the identity of the deceased individual, their age, and their sex, while offering certified proof of the time, place, and cause of death.
An Estate is an encompassing term, describing the real estate, investments, property, insurance, and any other asset that the person owns. Estates can be planned, and in the event of one’s death, they can be managed and distributed through wills and trusts.
An Executor is responsible for settling someone’s affairs, including finding the assets, utilizing probate courts for processing the will, and distributing assets according to the given wishes, after all, existing debts and taxes are paid.
A Fiduciary is a person or an entity that has a legal and ethical responsibility to act on another’s behalf, in situations involving trusts.
Financial Planning is the process of evaluating your current financial situation and creating a strategy to improve it moving forward.
A Grantee is a person or party that receives a title from the grantor by a grant document.
A Grantor is a person or party that gives a title to the grantee through a grant document.
A Guardian is a court-appointed individual who is in charge of taking care of someone who is unable to take care of themselves, such as an incapacitated adult or a minor.
A Guardianship is a legal term for the relationship between the guardian and a minor child. A guardianship gives the guardian rights and obligations, regarding the child without severing the legal relationship between the child and their biological parents.
Guardianship Avoidance occurs when the person in question does not wish to enter into guardianship, or if the person in question wishes to avoid someone becoming their guardian. Through the utilization of a Durable Power of Attorney, Healthcare Power of Attorney, and a funded revocable living trust, guardianship can be avoided.
Long-Term Care is a variety of services designed to satisfy the needs of a person, who may no longer be able to themselves. These services can be for any allotted period of time and allow for independent living if possible.
The Look-Back Period is five years from the date of Medicaid application for Medicaid benefits. During this period, any transfers made or gifts acquired are subject to penalty.
Medicaid is a federal-state program that provides medical assistance to low-income individuals, including senior citizens ages 65 and older.
Medicare is a federal health insurance program for individuals ages 65 and older, younger individuals with disabilities, and individuals with an end-stage renal disease. There are different types of Medicare to cover different medical services, including hospital stays, long-term care, doctor visits, supplies and more.
A Power of Attorney is a written authorization that gives one or more persons the power to act on your behalf as your agent. There are different types of Powers of Attorney, which give different types of agency at different scopes to the agent.
A Principal is a person making a Power of Attorney.
Probate is the legal process that values and distributes the assets and possessions of a dead individual.
Social Security is a federal social welfare and insurance program that pays benefits to retirees, disabled workers, and the surviving families of workers who have died. The benefits are unique to the individual and depend on a number of factors including retirement age, lifetime earnings, total income in retirement, home state, and marital status. Social Security can be collected by Americans ages 62 and older.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a federal program that pays benefits to disabled adults and children who have limited income and resources. They also are payable to individuals ages 65 and older without disabilities, who meet the financial qualifications.
A Trust is a legal entity that holds assets that are intended to benefit individuals, groups or organizations. Trusts can hold money or property and come in different types.
An Irrevocable Trust cannot be revoked or changed and exclusively are done to produce specific tax or asset protection results.
A Credit Shelter Trust (also referred to as a bypass trust or a family trust) includes the writing of a will bequeathing an amount to the trust up to, but not exceeding the estate tax exemption. From there, you pass the rest of your estate to your spouse tax-free forever, regardless of growth.
Qualified Personal Residence Trusts can remove the value of your home or vacation home from your estate and become useful if your home is to appreciate in value.
Generation-Skipping Trusts (also referred to as dynasty trusts) allow you to transfer a substantial amount tax-free to beneficiaries who are at least two generations younger.
Qualified Terminable Interest Property Trusts are for those that are part of a family that has included divorces, remarriages, and stepchildren and allows the grantor to direct assets to specific relatives. The surviving spouse receives income from the trust, and the specified beneficiaries will get the remainder after the surviving spouse dies.
Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts have the ability to remove your life insurance from your taxable estate while helping to pay estate costs and provide heirs with cash. However, by removing the policy from your estate, you surrender ownership rights, disallowing you to borrow against the home or change beneficiaries. This also means the proceeds of the policy can be used to pay any estate costs after you die, providing your beneficiaries with tax-free income.
A Trustee is an individual who has been given the responsibility of managing the property owned by the trust.
A Will is a legal document that contains specific instructions, as to how you wish your assets and property to be distributed.
A Joint Will is written by two testators who leave their assets and property to one another and outline who inherits the estate after the surviving partner dies. This will cannot be changed.
A Living Will offers instructions on what types of medical treatments would be desired in the event that the testator is unable to communicate these wishes for themselves.
A Simple Will is a will for those with small estates and can utilize available templates that meet the state’s legal requirements.
Will and Trust Planning entails knowing how one wishes to distribute aspects of their estate and utilizing legal resources to make sure that the author wishes are legally binding and followed through in the event of their death.