Jill’s Blog for the week of February 10, 2014:

Sometimes we forget how long ago and how diligently we studied to learn the language of the law. Sometimes we forget that not everybody is comfortable with those words. Here are a few definitions (paraphrased from Black’s Law Dictionary) so we all know what we mean:

Disinherit: when someone who expects to be in the will is not going to benefit from it.

Asset: an item that is owned and has value, such as cash, real estate, and/or the property of a deceased person available for paying the decedent’s debts.

Contested: a matter at issue, in dispute.

Decedent: a person who has died.

Incapacitated Person: someone who is impaired by mental or physical illness or disability to the extent he or she cannot make binding decisions or have legal consequences attach to those decisions. For example, a minor child generally cannot be required to act as she promised in a contract. There are exceptions for necessities of life, i.e., food and shelter.

i.e.: abbreviation meaning “for example”, or “such as”

Designee or Designated Person: a person authorized to act for another, generally because the other is incapacitated or otherwise not available.

Contract: an agreement, written or oral, between two or more persons where each agrees to do something. A contract is binding if the terms are enforceable, i.e., the terms and the act(s) promised are legal. The parties are the people who make the contract.

Agent: generally, one who is authorized to act for another in a variety of situations.

Trust: Very generally, a trust is a document where a trustee holds title of the property at the request of the settlor for the benefit of another, the beneficiary. A valid trust must identify the specific property, describe the settlor’s intent in making the trust, and be created for a legal purpose.

Trustee – person who holds title in trust for the beneficiary
Settlor – person who owns the asset and sets up the trust
Beneficiary – person or other entity who benefits from the trust

We hope this helps make what we write easier to understand. Sometimes, we have to use the specific words to make our meaning clear to those who interpret it, like judges. If you aren’t sure what we mean, ask us.