It helps to learn the terms that are used in financial planning before you begin conversations about it.



PROBATE is a legal process that usually involves filing a deceased person’s will withtthe local probate court, taking an inventory and getting appraisals of the deceased’s property, payin all legal debts, and eventually distributing the remaining assets and property.  If an estate meets the state’s requirements for “expedited” probate, the process is faster and less costly.



A TRUST is a legal arrangement where on person (the “grantor”) gives control of his property to a trust, which is administered by a “trustee” for the “beneficiary’s” benefit. The grantor, trustee, and beneficiary may be th3e same person.  The grantor names a successor trustee in the event of incapacitation or death, as well as successor beneficiaries.



A LIVING TRUST, created while you’re alive, lets you control the distribution of your estate.  You transfer ownership of your property and your assets into the trust.  Properly drafted and executed, a living trust can avoid probate because the trust owns the assets, not the deceased.  Poorly drawn or unfunded trusts can actually cost you money and endanger your best intentions.



A WILL is a legal document that dictates how to distribute your property after your death.  If you don’t have a will, you die intestate, and the state determines what happens to you estate and your minor children.  The probate court governs this process. 



A LIVING WILL expresses your wishes about being kept alive if you’re terminally ill or seriously injured.




To learn more about estate planning strategies, talk with an experienced estate planning attorney or financial advisor, and check out the following resources:  The American Bar Association (312) 988-5522,, your local County Tax Assessor, or AARP (800) 424-3410,