Abstract of Trust

Summary version of a living trust which can be used to prove that a trust exists without revealing the property included in the trust or the beneficiaries. Allows trustor or creator of trust to submit appropriate documentation to financial institutions (for example) without losing confidentiality of contents of the trust.

Accumulation Trust

Trust in which income is deposited into trust rather than distributed. Income may be paid to beneficiaries when and as provided in the trust.

Acknowledgement

Statement in front of a notary or other person who administers oaths that the signature on that document belongs to you (the person who is signing the document).

Ademption

Failure of a bequest of property because the property in question is no longer owned by the person making the will or estate plan.

Administration of an estate

Court-supervised distribution of an estate after a person has died. The Executor administers the estate when there’s a will. Without a will, the executor is called an “administrator”.

Adopted child

A person, adult or child, who is legally adopted and becomes the legal child of another person. A probate court proceeding is required. Adopted children have the same rights as biological children in estates and inheritances.

Affidavit

Written statement made under oath, often under penalty of perjury.

Alternate Beneficiaries

Is a person or organization you name to receive a gift you left to direct beneficiary, if that direct beneficiary dies before you do.

Alternative dispute resolution divorce

Today, many options are available for how you handle your divorce. Mediation, collaborative divorce, and use of private judges or arbitrators are a few of these options. Many cases which are mediated result in an uncontested divorce, and the spouses aren’t even required to go to court.

Annual Exemption

Federal law allows you to give property worth $11,000 or less per person (or noncharitable institution) per year. A couple can give $22,000 a year tax free to one person.Click Here for Current Gift Tax Exemption.

Annuity

Investment which pays a fixed sum of money to a specific person at specific intervals.

Antenuptial Agreement

An agreement made between a man and a woman before marrying in which they give up future rights to each other’s property in the event of divorce or death.

Attorney

One who is legally appointed to transact business on another’s behalf. Nowadays, most attorneys specialize in just 1 or 2 areas of the law. If you’re looking for a family law attorney, be sure that you ask what percentage of their practice is family law, and [generally] don’t choose anyone whose practice is less than 50% family law.

Attorney advisor

Generally referred to simply as an “attorney”. Nowadays, most attorneys specialize in just 1 or 2 areas of the law. If you’re looking for a family law attorney, be sure that you ask what percentage of their practice is family law, and [generally] don’t choose anyone whose practice is less than 50% family law.

Attorneys divorce

Also called Family Law Attorneys or Matrimonial Attorneys, these are attorneys who focus their practices in family law.

Basis

A tax term which refers to the value of property for the purposes of determining whether or not a profit or loss has been realized upon sale or transfer. For the purchase and subsequent sale of a home, the basis generally refers to the original sale price plus any capital improvements and costs of closing. Stepped Up Basis refers to the value at the time of the death of an owner or co-owner. Rather than using the original purchase price, the deceased owner’s basis is calculated as the value as of date of death.

Beneficiary

Person or legal entity which receives gifts of bequests made under a will, trust, retirement plan, insurance policy, etc.

Bequest

The gift made to a beneficiary, an older term describing the gift made through a will provision leaving property to a person.

Bond

A guarantee of payment. Generally, in estate planning, this is a document which guarantees payment in the event that a person responsible for money or property distribution does not act in accordance with the will or trust, the law, or his or her fiduciary duties. Bonds are generally purchased through a bonding company for 10% of the face value of the bond, which is based on the amount of money or property at stake.

Bypass trust

A trust which creates a life estate for a beneficiary with the trust principal going to a final beneficiary when the life beneficiary dies. For example, money may be left for a child, with the child’s parent as the life beneficiary. The parent may, according to the terms of the trust, use the income and/or property during his or her life, with the principal going to the child when the parent dies.

California Probate Code Section 21610

Share of Omitted Spouse

Except as provided in Section 21611, if a decedent fails to provide in a testamentary instrument will for the decedent’s surviving spouse who married the decedent after the execution of all of the decedent’s testamentary instruments, the omitted spouse shall receive a share in the decedent’s estate consisting of the following property in the estate:

The one-half of the community property that belongs to the decedent under Section 100.
The one-half of the quasi-community property that belongs to the decedent under Section 101.
A share of the separate property of the decedent equal in value to that which the spouse would have received if the decedent had died without having executed a testamentary instrument, but in no event is the share to be more than one-half of the value of the separate property in the estate.

Charitable Deduction

All gifts left to a tax-exempt charitable organization are exempt from federal tax.

Charitable Trust

Trust which leaves money or property to a charity. Often results in income tax or estate tax savings for the grantor (person giving the money or property).

Child custody

The legal designation of who is authorized to make decisions about a child’s health, education and welfare, as well as where he or she lives. Custody is broken down into categories legal custody means decision making power, and physical custody is where a child lives, and how he or she spends time with parents or other custodians, often called a Parenting Plan.

Child support

The obligation for a periodic payment made by a non-custodial parent to a custodial parent, caregiver or guardian for the support and care of a child. Child support in California is broken down into 2 categories the monthly amount which one parent pays the other each month, and child support “add-ons”, i.e., work-related childcare, uninsured medical bills, and lessons, camp and activities for a child.

Child visitation

The amount of time, and the schedule, which a child spends with each parent. The more modern term is “parenting plan”, since a parent isn’t really a “visitor” with his or her child. Visitation falls under the designation of physical custody, and isn’t impacted by legal custody (decision-making power).

Child visitation rights

Rights that award visitation to the non custodial parent, caregiver, or guardian. Generally, biological parents have the right to see their children, whether it’s 50% of the time in their physical custody or whether it’s a supervised visit at a correctional facility. It’s generally a question of amount of time and where that time is spent.

Child’s Trust

All property you leave to a child in a trust is established and managed under the terms of the trust.

You are able to specify the trustee’s power and select the age the beneficiary must reach before the trust property is turned over.

This trust allows property to be held legally separate from the other Children’s property.

Children

For purposes of planning your estate, your children include your biological and adopted children. For children born out of wedlock, paternity must be proved or the children must be legally acknowledged to be the child of the parent(s).

Co-parenting

A modern term for child custody which implies a cooperative style of parenting for parents who are no longer married or living together but who wish to maintain a good relationship for the sake of their children.

Codicil

a document which amends an existing will.

Common Law Marriage

Parties who are living together as if they are married, but who have never had a legal marriage ceremony. California does not recognize common law marriages, but does, under certain circumstances, recognize palimony.
Marvin Case

Community property

California’s method of division of property in the event of a divorce or for valuing an estate. California’s community property law basically includes as “community property” all assets and debts and income acquired during a marriage, before permanent separation. Exclusions include, but are not limited to, premarital property, inheritances, gifts from family or friends to just one spouse, student loans.

Conditional gift

Gift which is only to be made if certain conditions are met. Example Grandpa can specify that you will inherit grandpa’s estate only if you are married when he dies.

Conservator

Person appointed by a court to manage the finances and affairs of a mentally incompetent person.

Contract

Agreement, generally in writing, between two or more people or legal entities. Each entity promises to do something in exchange for the promises made in the contract.

Counseling Pre-Marital

Many couples go to couples’ counseling before making a final decision to marry, making sure their values, goals and priorities are in line, and to learn how to communicate better. If you are not sure if you have found “the one”, exploring your options and feelings with a therapist, whether it’s an individual therapist or couples’ counselor, may be a good investment.

Creditor

Person or legal entity to whom money or a debt is owed.

Curtesy

Right of a surviving spouse to receive or enjoy a percentage of the deceased spouse’s property if the spouse dies without a will or estate plan, or if the will or estate plan attempts to disinherit the spouse without a valid premarital or post marital agreement permitting the spouse to be disinherited. In California, this is 1/3 of the entire estate.

Custodian

Person in charge of caring for property left to a minor under the Uniform Transfers or Uniform Gifts to Minors Act.

Death Taxes

Taxes assessed on the property of a deceased person. Death taxes are called estate taxes for Federal tax purposes. Also referred to as Inheritance Taxes.

Debtor

Person who owes money.

Decedent

Person who has died.

Deed

Document which transfers title to property.

Descendent

Person who is an offspring of a person or family.

Devise

Real estate given by a will. Also may be referred to as a gift.

Direct Beneficiaries

Is a person or institution you name in a will, trust, or pay on death account to receive a gift of specific property.

Disclaimer

For estate planning purposes, a disclaimer is the right to refuse to accept money or property left to you in someone else’s estate plan, trust or will.

Dissolution of marriage

Legal term for divorce. When a marriage is dissolved, the parties are single and unmarried after the final decree enters with the court.

Divorce

When a marriage is dissolved, the parties are single and unmarried after the final decree enters with the court.

Divorce California;

California is a “no fault” state, which means that in order to get divorced you can simply tell the court that you have “irreconcilable differences” and that your marriage is over. You don’t need to give any specifics about why you feel your marriage is over. And, if your spouse feels your marriage is over, but you want to stay married, your spouse has an absolute right to get divorced from you. You can’t legally stop someone from divorcing you (except by reconciling, of course).

Divorce certification

Once your divorce has been finalized by the court, certified copies of your paperwork is available through the clerk’s office for a reasonable fee.

Divorce certified

Once your divorce has been finalized by the court, certified copies of your paperwork is available through the clerk’s office for a reasonable fee.

Divorce estate

The divorce estate is the total amount of assets which is available for distribution between the spouses by the court.

Divorce finance

In response to consumer demand, financial planners have developed certification for Certified Divorce Financial Planners who can help divorcing spouses figure out the best way to divide their assets and income based on their current situation, investment priorities and styles, and long term goals.

Divorce financial

The financial divorce is one component of a divorce. Typically, this encompasses the assets (cars, house, etc.) and sometimes it also includes spousal support and child support. Components of a typical divorce include the financial settlement (assets), support orders (spousal support, child support) and parenting plans (custody).

Divorce Guidelines CA

California uses community property laws to divide assets in divorces. Community property laws provide, basically, that all assets and debts accrued during the marriage are to be divided 50/50. There are many exceptions to this rule, but this is the basic guideline. All states, including California, also provide Guidelines for Child Support. Using your income, tax rates, and, in many states, the amount of time each parent spends with the children, child support orders are set in accordance with the Guidelines formula.

Divorce help

Mediators, your local bar association, the local Legal Aid office, accountants and therapists are often great sources of divorce information and help. Don’t hesitate to reach out. As consumers become more enlightened about the shortcomings of the court system, divorce consultants have become a more prevalent choice in the decision of how to divorce. Divorce consultants include such professionals as mediators, Certified Divorce Financial Planners, Collaborative Family Lawyers and divorce coaches in addition to the traditional family law attorneys and accountants.

Divorce law

Each state has different divorce laws, and these laws fall into 2 categories equitable division and community property. Equitable division laws give the court the power to order whatever the court feels is fair given your individual circumstances, and community property laws require the court to divide the assets and debts accumulated during the marriage 50/50, with some exceptions. In mediation and collaborative law, you’re free to negotiate whatever you and your spouse feel is fair, with the laws in mind, of course. Mediation lets you figure out what will work best for your family, not just the law.

Divorce laws

Each state has different divorce laws, and these laws fall into 2 categories equitable division and community property. Equitable division laws give the court the power to order whatever the court feels is fair given your individual circumstances, and community property laws require the court to divide the assets and debts accumulated during the marriage 50/50, with some exceptions. In mediation and collaborative law, you’re free to negotiate whatever you and your spouse feel is fair, with the laws in mind, of course. Mediation lets you figure out what will work best for your family, not just the law.

Divorce lawyer

Also known as a family law attorney, or matrimonial attorney, divorce lawyers help clients with divorce related issues divorce, legal separation, custody, support, parenting plans, financial settlements, legal drafting, litigation, or a mix of all of these things.

Divorce Mediation

And custody mediation typically consist of several joint meetings between spouses (or parents, if you are not married) which last 3-4 hours each. During those meetings, you and your spouse discuss the issues which need to be resolved in your case. The mediator is there to facilitate the discussion, assist with communication, provide information and suggestions, and use specialized training to assist the two of you to resolve your differences and write up an agreement which is fair to both of you, and, if you have children, in their best interests as well.

Divorce Rights

Each state has laws which govern how property and income is divided in a divorce. Before you file for divorce, you’ll want to be sure you understand how your state’s laws work and that you’re prepared for what to expect. An accountant or Certified Divorce Financial Planner can be a great resource before, during and after a divorce.

Divorce Statistics

About 41,000 couples file for divorce every year in Los Angeles County. 98% of those couples are able to settle out of court, many using mediation. Over 70% of divorcing couples in Los Angeles County get divorced without using any lawyers at all. Only 10% of the divorce cases have 2 lawyers involved.

Durable power of attorney

Power of attorney which is effective even if the person who created it 9the principal) becomes incapacitated, allowing the person who holds the power of attorney (the person authorized to act) to make healthcare decisions and handle the money and affairs of the principal. The person who holds the power of attorney is called the attorney-in-fact.

Encumbrances

Debt or liens against property. For example, when property is used as collateral for payment of a debt, such as a mortgage, the property is said to be encumbered. The mortgage is an encumbrance.

End marriage

Marriages may end in separation, Legal Separation, or divorce.

Equitable distribution

The division of the marital assets acquired during a marriage, including marital debts according to what the court feels is fair under the circumstances.

Equity

Value of property less all debt owed (encumbrances).

Escheat

Property which goes to the state government because no one can lay legal claim to it.

Estate

The total value (market price of your property minus anything you owe on it) of all the property you own at your death.

Estate planning

Planning how your property will pass to your intended recipients upon your death.

Estate Taxes

Taxes assessed on the property of a deceased person. Death taxes are called estate taxes for Federal tax purposes. Also referred to as Inheritance Taxes.

Executor

Person named in your will who will manage your estate, deal with the probate court and distribute your assets.

Family and divorce

Although divorce may end the marital relationship, families endure. Divorce doesn’t need to end your ability to be good co-parents or even friends. The old model of scorched-earth litigation is quickly becoming a thing of the past as more and more people realize the collateral damage that a high conflict divorce causes for children, relatives, friends, and for the individuals involved.

Family law

Area of law that deals with separation, divorce, child custody, adoption and division of marital assets

Family law case

A case filed within the family law court

Family law mediation

A form of conflict resolution as it relates to family law issues

Family Law Mediation Attorneys

This term may refer to family law attorneys who act as mediators and who have specialized mediation training, or family law attorneys who represent premarital agreement clients whose cases are in mediation with a 3rd party mediator. Sometimes these are referred to as mediation friendly attorneys, meaning that while the attorney may handle litigation cases, he or she also understands the value of settlement and mediation.

Family law mediation practices

A mediation practice whose sole focuses are family law issues

Family Pot Trust

A pot trust is often used by parents with younger children. This type of trust allows the family money be kept together, so that it can be used on any child as required. The trustee named in the trust decided how much money shall be spent on each child. Therefore, if one child needs braces and the other child wants to go to private college, the trustee has discretion over the property to provide.

Federal Gift Tax

You can give away a total of $1million during your lifetime without paying gift taxes. The federal government imposes a tax on substantial gifts made during life. This tax is imposed on the giver of the gift, and not the recipient.

Federal Personal Estate Tax Exemption

If your estate is worth more than the amount of the personal estate tax exemption for the year of your death, your estate will owe taxes unless other exemptions or deductions apply.

Final beneficiaries

The people or institutions named to receive the remaining principal upon the death of a life beneficiary.

Financial Marriage

As much as people who get married rarely see marriage as a financial contract, certainly according to the laws of each state a marriage is a financial contract. married Couples have a legal duty to support one another, and may have automatic joint liability for things like medical bills and shelter.

Forensic Accountant

A CPA with specialized training to determine the value of assets and income. For example, you might use a forensic accountant trained in business valuation to put a value on your family business before you get married so that you can make a full disclosure to your fiance before you sign your premarital agreement.

Funding a trust

Transferring assets into a trust, by changing the title of the assets to list the owner as the trust, in the name of the trustee or trustees.

Future interest

Right to property which cannot be enforced at the present time, but which shall be enforceable in the future.

Generation skipping trust

Estate tax saving trust which leaves the principal in trust for grandchildren with one’s children receiving only the trust income.

Gift taxes

Taxes assessed by the government on gifts made during your lifetime.

Gifts

For estate planning purposes, any property given to a person or organization during your life, or left by will or living trust after your death.

Grantee

On a deed, the person who is receiving title to the property.

Grantor

Person who establishes a trust. Synonyms include settler and trustor. On a deed, the person who is transferring title to someone else.

Grantor retained income trusts

Trusts in which the grantor retains some interest in the trust property during his life rather than relinquishing all interest to the money or property.

Guardian of the minor’s property

Also called a property guardian or financial guardian. The guardian cares for your minor child’s property which isn’t part of a minor’s trust or other legal vehicle.

Health care directive

Document in which you state your wishes as to your health care in the event you’re unable to speak for yourself. Health care directive may also appointment someone else to make your healthcare decisions in the event you’re unable to make those decisions for yourself.

Heirs

Those who are entitled by law to inherit your estate if you die intestate (without a will)

Holographic Will

Will which is not witnessed and which is handwritten by the person making the will. Legal in some states, but not recommended.

Incidents of ownership

Any ownership or control over a life insurance policy.

Indemnification

An agreement to pay or repay an obligation. For example, you may agree that if your mom will co-sign a car loan that you will indemnify her if mom ever has to make a payment on your behalf.

Individual retirement programs

Individual retirement programs allow you to name beneficiaries to receive any money left in the account at the time of your death. Therefore, the money goes directly to your beneficiaries and is not subject to probate.

Inherit

To receive property from someone who has died.

Inheritance tax

* A tax on a decedent’s net estate that is levied after the estate is transmitted to the inheritors. Estate Taxes – federal taxes assessed on the property of a deceased person. Death or inheritance taxes are called estate taxes for Federal tax purposes.

Inheritors

People or legal entities who inherit property.

Instrument

Document, document which creates a trust

Inter Vivos Trust

Living trust

Interstate

Dying without a will or other estate plan in place.

Interstate succession

State law which dictates how your estate is distributed in the event you die without a will or other estate plan in place.

Irrevocable trust

Trust which cannot be revoked, voided, or amended in any way once it is set up.

Issue

Legal term referring to one’s children or direct descendents.

Joint tenancy

A way to take title when property is jointly owned which provides that if one owner dies, the other joint tenant(s) take the deceased person’s share as their own. Joint tenancy title transfers take place outside of probate court, and title transfers immediately upon death (although paperwork may need to be filed to memorialize this transfer on the land records).

Judicial Council forms

Official standardized forms created by the courts for all disputes filed with the court.

Lawful

Legal

Legacy

Gift from someone passing on.

Legal divorce

The completion of a court Judgment which dissolves your marriage.

Legal separation

A court order or written agreement in which a married couple agrees to live separately while still remaining legally married. Many people confuse the idea of separating (living apart) from Legal Separation. Legal Separation is a legal term which describes a process which is very similar to divorce, with the same rights and responsibilities, but which does not result in your being divorced at the end. Some people choose Legal Separation for religious reasons, or in order to stay on a spouse’s health insurance plan.

Letters testamentary

Document issued by the probate court allowing the executor to discharge his or her responsibilities.

Life estate

Right to use trust property and receive income from it during one’s lifetime.

Life Insurance

Life insurance is a good way to provide quick cash for debts, living expenses, and estate taxes for surviving family members. Because beneficiaries are named in life insurance policies, the proceeds do not go through probate.

Life insurance trust

Irrevocable trust which owns a life insurance policy. A life insurance trust is designed to reduce the size of the insured person’s taxable estate.

Liquid assets

Cash or assets which are easily turned into cash.

Living trust

Trust set up while a person is alive, and which remains under the control of that person until he or she dies, or the trust is amended or dissolved. Also referred to as an inter vivos trust. Living trusts are typically used to reduce the value of property subject to probate

Living will

* A document in which the signer requests to be allowed to die rather than be kept alive by artificial means if disabled beyond a reasonable expectation of recovery. See also Healthcare Directive.

Los Angeles divorce

About 41,000 Couples file for divorce every year in Los Angeles County. 98% of those Couples are able to settle out of court, many using mediation. Over 70% of divorcing Couples in Los Angeles County get divorced without using any lawyers at all. Only 10% of the divorce cases have 2 lawyers involved.

Maritable Exemption

All property left by a deceased spouse to a surviving spouse is exempt from tax.

Marital deduction

Deduction allowed by federal estate tax law for all property which passes to a surviving spouse, irrespective of the amount, free of tax.

Marital Exemption

Gifts between spouses are exempt from gift tax. However, the marital deduction does not apply to gifts from a citizen spouse to a non-citizen spouse.

Marital Property

Marital property describes the assets and debts that you will accumulate together once you are married.

Marital Settlement Agreement

A written document that outlines the financial, support, and custody arrangements which is signed by both parties and approved by the court.

Marriage

Legal union between two adults

Marriage Contract

This term may refer to the legal contract implied by getting married, i.e., in California, by getting married you are subjecting yourself to the California family court laws and marriage laws. It may also refer to a premarital agreement, prenuptial agreement, or antenuptial agreement, which is an agreement made between a man and a woman before marrying in which they give up future rights to each other’s property in the event of divorce or death.

Marriage Counseling

Counseling on marital problems and disagreements. every relationship experiences its ups and downs. It’s hard to know when your relationship is truly over because it’s a process, not an event. A therapist may be able to help you sort through your feelings, either individually or as a couple. The book Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay A Step-by-Step Guide to Help You Decide Whether to Stay in or Get Out of Your Relationship, by Mira Kirshenbaum, may be helpful, as well as many of Dr. John Gottman’s books, www.gottman.com

Mediation

* intervention between conflicting parties to promote reconciliation, settlement, or Compromise. Divorce Mediation and Custody Mediation are a way to resolve your divorce or custody dispute which lets you keep full control of the outcome. The only people making decisions are those involved in the dispute, unlike arbitration or litigation where a judge or an arbitrator makes the final decision.

Mediation Attorneys

This term may refer to attorneys who act as mediators and who have specialized mediation training, or attorneys who represent clients whose cases are in mediation with a 3rd party mediator. Sometimes these are referred to as mediation friendly attorneys, meaning that while the attorney may handle litigation cases, he or she also understands the value of settlement and mediation.

Mediator

A third party negotiator who acts as a link between parties who reconciles disputes. Divorce Mediation and custody mediation typically consist of several joint meetings between spouses (or parents, if you are not married) which last 3-4 hours each. During those meetings, you and your spouse discuss the issues which need to be resolved in your case. The mediator is there to facilitate the discussion, assist with communication, provide information and suggestions, and use specialized training to assist the two of you to resolve your differences and write up an agreement which is fair to both of you, and, if you have children, in their best interests as well.

Minor

Person under the age of 18 years.

Mortgage

Security instrument which is recorded on the land records to prove the security for the repayment of a debt, typically against real property.

Net taxable estate

Value of all property of an estate at the death of the owner, less all encumbrances and debts.

Next to kin

Closest living relative

Non-custodial parent

Parent who does not have physical custody of a child. Today, with more and more parents sharing custody and participating in their children’s lives, we more often refer to the parenting plan rather than designating one parent as “non-custodial”.

Ongoing trust

Any irrevocable trust designed to be operated for a specific period of time

Palimony

An income replacement– like alimony or spousal support –that may be awarded under a contract theory rather than an alimony law. The difference is that palimony is for people who are not married. Palimony claims are not easy claims to win in court, but that doesn’t stop some people from trying.

Parenting plan

The written court orders which outline how often and when the children will be with each parent and how child-focused decisions will be made. Parenting plans typically include decision making protocols, a day-to-day schedule, vacations, holidays and travel, as well as other parenting issues such as how to handle a relocation request.

Pay on death designation

Also called a pay on death account. Bank account which balance will be paid upon the owner’s death to the person specified as the pay on death beneficiary.

Peaceful resolution

Constance Arons’ book, The Good Divorce, was one of the first (and most enduring) books to illustrate how a peaceful divorce might be possible. Allowing yourself to grief the end of your relationship is an important part of healing, and, eventually, you’ll allow the new chapter of your post-divorce life to begin. Handling your divorce in a civil, pro-active and thoughtful way will help the healing process begin, leaving you with a clear path toward happiness in the future. We believe that mediation is a good first step in working through your divorce issues in a sane, sensible way.

Personal Exemption

If your estate is worth more than the amount of the personal estate tax exemption for the year of your death, your estate will owe taxes unless other exemptions or deductions apply.

Personal Guardian

If no parent is available to raise your child, another adult must be legally responsible to do so. This person is called the child’s personal guardian.

Personal property

All property except for land or real estate. Personal items, cash, investments, cars, etc.

Postmarital Agreement

A private contract that defines certain issues within a marriage (which has already taken place), typically debt, spousal support and property division, as well as certain provisions in the event of a marital partner’s death. Synonym postnuptial agreement.

Postnuptial Agreement

A private contract that defines certain issues within a marriage (which has already taken place), typically debt, spousal support and property division, as well as certain provisions in the event of a marital partner’s death. Synonym post-marital agreement.

Pour over will

A will which automatically deposits money or assets into a trust. Property left through a will must go through probate before it can “pour over” into the trust.

Power of appointment

Legal authority to decide who shall receive property held in a trust.

Power of attorney

* A legal instrument authorizing one to act as the attorney or agent of the signer. See also durable power of attorney.

Predetermined heir

Child (or child of a deceased child) who is either not named in or not provided for in a will but who are entitled to a share of an estate. Designed to prevent accidental disinheritance of a child not yet born when a will is made, or for the children of a child who was alive when you made your will but who predeceases you.

Premarital Agreement

A private contract that defines certain issues within a marriage (which hasn’t yet taken place), typically spousal support and property division, as well as certain provisions in the event of a marital partner’s death. Synonym prenuptial agreement.

Premarital Agreements Mediation

Prenuptial agreements or premarital agreements which are prepared using a mediator and the mediation process. Using prenuptial or premarital mediation to draft an agreement allows the couple to determine the subjects the agreement covers as well as to fully discuss the issues together, rather than individually with individual lawyers. After the agreement is discussed and drafted in mediation, Couples are advised to see an individual attorney (one for each fiancé) to review the agreement before signing. This process saves both money and aggravation because the couple first makes the important decision

QDOT Trust

Trust used to delay estate taxes.

Quasi-community property

Property which is part community property and part not community property

Real estate

Real property (e.g., land, houses).

Real property

Land, houses, and items attached to the land..

Recording

Filing of deeds and official papers with the county land records office. Recording creates an official public record of ownership and changes in ownership.

Residual beneficiary

Person who receives trust property after death of a life beneficiary, or ultimate beneficiary of property left by will or trust which wasn’t otherwise disposed of in the will or trust.

Residue or Residuary Estate

All property not specifically devised or given away as part of your will or trust. Basically, whatever is left over after all assets which were specified in the will or trust are distributed.

Right of survivorship

Right of surviving joint tenant to take title to deceased joint tenant’s share of property.

Separate property

All property which is not community property. This typically includes property acquired before marriage (pre-marital) or post-separation as well as inheritances and gifts.

Separation

Many people confuse the idea of separating (living apart) from Legal Separation. It’s legal to live separately, but some people need help in figuring out who will pay which joint bills, where the children will spend their time, and how you’ll handle support while you’re separated and either working on reconciliation or deciding to get divorced. Mediators can be very helpful in facilitating your discussions about these tough issues, especially when your separation is new. Legal Separation is a legal term which describes a process which is very similar to divorce, with the same rights and responsibilities, but which does not result in your being divorced at the end. Some people choose Legal Separation for religious reasons, or in order to stay on a spouse’s health insurance plan.

Separation agreement

A written document that outlines the financial, support, and custody arrangements which is signed by both parties and approved by the court.

Separation and divorce

Many people confuse the idea of separating (living apart) from Legal Separation. It’s legal to live separately, but some people need help in figuring out who will pay which joint bills, where the children will spend their time, and how you’ll handle support while you’re separated and either working on reconciliation or deciding to get divorced. Mediators can be very helpful in facilitating your discussions about these tough issues, especially when your separation is new. Legal Separation is a legal term which describes a process which is very similar to divorce, with the same rights and responsibilities, but which does not result in your being divorced at the end. Some people choose Legal Separation for religious reasons, or in order to stay on a spouse’s health insurance plan.

Serve divorce papers

When a divorce is started, a Petition or Complaint is filed with the court. That document needs to be given to the other party, which is called Service of Process. This insures that all parties to the divorce are aware that papers have been filed with the court, giving them an opportunity to respond and participate in the case.

Spousal Support (alimony)

Income supplement or replacement for a spouse who earns less than his or her marital partner. Spousal support is generally considered to be taxable income for the person who receives it, and a tax deduction for the person who pays it. Spousal support, maintenance, spousal maintenance and alimony are synonyms. Follow this link for more information on Basic California Divorce Law

Spouse

Person to whom you are [legally] married.

Stepped Up Basis

Refers to the value at the time of the death of an owner or co-owner. Rather than using the original purchase price, the deceased owner’s basis is calculated as the value as of date of death.

Stipulated Judgement

Final settlement agreement which is submitted to the court in a divorce in which all issues are settled. Your signed Stipulated Judgment paperwork is submitted to the court for approval. Many cases which are mediated result in an uncontested divorce, and the spouses aren’t even required to go to court.

Successor trustee

Person or legal entity who takes over when the first named trustee steps down or is unable to fulfill his or her trustee duties.

Taking against the will

Choice by surviving spouse to receive his or her statutory share of an estate rather than what has been provided for him or her in the will. See dower and curtesy.

Taxable estate

That part of an estate which is subject to federal or state estate taxes.

Tenancy by the entirety

Form of marital property ownership with a right of survivorship between the spouses. See also joint tenancy.

Tenancy in common

Form of joint ownership which provides that if one joint owner dies, his or her share becomes part of his or her estate rather than automatically becoming the property of the other joint tenants. See also joint tenancy and tenancy by the entirety.

Testamentary trust

Trust created by a will.

Testate

Someone who dies and leaves a valid will or estate planning device in place.

Testator

Person making a will

Title

Document which proves ownership of property.

Transfer on Death

Designation of ownership of property which provides for a direct transfer to the named person upon the death of the owner.

Trust

Trust

* Legal document which designates one person or institution (trustee) to control property given by another person (trustor) for the benefit of a 3rd party (beneficiary). The property included in a trust is called the principal of the trust.

Trust

* A property interest held by one person for the benefit of another

Trust corpus, trust res

Property inside of a trust.

Trust merger

Trust which automatically is terminated when there is one sole beneficiary left and that person is also the sole remaining trustee.

Trustee

Person(s) or legal entity which manages a trust and trust property according to the terms of a trust.

Trustee powers

Provisions in a trust which define what a trustee may or may not do and what the trustee controls. Generally includes the ability to choose investments for property, for example.

Uncontested divorce

Divorce in which all issues are settled and paperwork setting forth the spouses’ agreement is submitted to the court for approval. Many cases which are mediated result in an uncontested divorce, and the spouses aren’t even required to go to court.

Uniform gift to minors act, uniform transfers to minors act

State statutes which provide rules for transferring property to minors.

Will

A written instrument legally executed by which a person makes disposition of his or her estate to take effect after death.