FAQ’s Regarding Wills, Trusts and Estates

Q: What is a:

  • 1. Beneficiary – This is a person who receives assets from the estate of another.
  • 2. Guardian – A guardian is a person who looks after your children after your death.
  • 3. Testator – Testator is the term for the person who writes the will.
  • 4. Trustee – An individual or institution which administrates a trust.
  • 5. Executor – The executor is the person who handles the distribution of your assets when you die. In addition he or she is responsible for your funeral arrangements, probating your will, collecting any assets, paying your debts, obtaining life insurance proceeds, and seeing to it your assets are distributed and any taxes on your estate are paid.

Q: What is the difference between a living will and a last will and testament?
Living wills are advanced directives. They deal with medical treatment should you be unable to make decisions on your own concerning your general health and welfare. They also provide circumstances under which an individual with a health care proxy may turn off a life support system in the event you are brain dead and doctors certify that you will never be resuscitated.

A last will and testament is a document which deals with the inheritance of your assets, who shall raise your children if they are minors, and the disposition of everything you own.

Q: What is the difference between probate proceedings and administration proceedings?
If an individual dies with a Will, the Will must be probated. If an individual dies who has no Will, the process of establishing an estate is called an administration proceeding.

Q: What is the difference between an executor and a trustee?
The executor’s job is to see to it the Will is probated, the bills of the estate are paid and the assets are distributed. The job of a trustee is to carry out the terms of a trust. Those terms are specifically indicated within the confines of the trust document.