Legal Jargon


If you’re completing a Will for you, then the Testator or Principal is YOU!

Agent / Advocate / Attorney-In-Fact / Executor / Personal Representative / Fiduciary / Surrogate

There are multiple ways this person can be described or referenced, but they all reference the same individual(s) as it relates to your Last Will & Testament. This is the person you have selected to carry out your wishes. Sometimes you can have someone different for each document (Last Will, Living Will, Powers of Attorney), or you can keep it simple and nominate the same person. If you’re married, many people nominate their spouse. Just be sure you have a conversation with WHOEVER it is you want to nominate. Make sure they understand what is being asked of them, and that they are good with carrying it out.


If you have children under 18, the Guardian is someone legally responsible for your child’s physical care, health, education and welfare until they reach the age of 18.


This is a person (or entity) that has been given control of assets or property to manage for another, with the legal obligation to administer it as specified.

Residuary Estate

This is everything else. The remainder of your estate will be divided up based on the beneficiaries you’ve chosen.


If you have minor children and/or young adults, it is advisable that their inheritance be held in “Trust” by your Executor/Personal Representative to manage their inheritance as “Trustee”, until the age you have selected for them to receive it. It could be 18, it could be 35. That’s up to you, check with an attorney if you have specific questions or concerns. Our documents state that the person named as Executor or Personal Representative is the person who holds onto the distribution for the minor in trust and serves as the Trustee – not the Guardian. We have found that clients prefer the money person to handle the money and the Guardian in some cases is not the money person, but the Executor/Personal Representative is in almost all cases the money person. Plus, there is a check and balance if the Guardian and the Trustee are not the same person.

Wipeout Clause

If NONE of your designated beneficiaries survive you, then your stuff has to go somewhere. Here is where you elect what you want to do with it. Next living relative? Charity? Up to you.

HIPAA Release

This allows your agent to gain access to your health care records.

Terminal Condition

State definitions vary, but it is typically considered an irreversible condition (NO CURE) that in the near future will result in death or permanent unconsciousness. This is something where a patient will “die shortly” whether or not medical treatment is given.

Permanent Confusion

Some states define this a condition in which you’ve become unable to remember, understand, or make decisions. You don’t recognize loved ones or cannot have a clear conversation with them.


These are individuals, who for most states CANNOT be beneficiaries of your Will (and cannot be healthcare providers on your Power of Attorney for Healthcare/Advance Directive/Living Will documents), that witness your signature in front of a notary…verifying that you were of your right mind when you made your choices. Most states require two witnesses. This just solidifies to those who are left behind, that this is legit.

State Specific

This means that your documents have been custom created to your states rules and laws.

Alternate Agent, Advocate, Attorney-In-Fact, Personal Representative, Fiduciary, or Surrogate

There are multiple ways this person can be described or referenced, but they all reference the same individual(s) as it relates to your Will. You’re going to need a backup for whoever you want carrying out your wishes. So this person would step in if your first choice is unavailable, or chooses not execute on your behalf.


When it comes to your Financial and Health Care Power of Attorney, a judge can appoint someone to manage your financial affairs and/or look out for the best interests of you. You can elect for this to be your primary/alternate agent, or you can select someone else. If your primary agent is a spouse or sibling that is awful with money, you may want to think twice about letting them handle your finances (but as always, consult an attorney for specific questions…that’s pure entertainment-driven opinion).

Alternate Guardian

This is a backup to a guardian, who would step in if your first choice is unavailable, or chooses not execute on your behalf.


Specific Bequests are special items that you want to go to someone specific. Ultimately, you’re Beneficiaries are going to inherit everything you’ve left behind. If there is something specific – like a collection of baseball cards, your favorite couch or your car and even specific cash gifts – that you want to leave to someone specific, you make that known under Specific Bequests.


This is anyone you have chosen to receive your Residuary Estate. If you’re married with children, then normally that would go to your spouse first, and then to your children should your spouse dies first. If you aren’t married, you can select however many people to divide up your estate.

Minor Beneficiary Age

If you have children under the age of 18, you’ll be asked to select an age for them to receive their inheritance. There is no legal answer here. It is purely up to you. If you’ve got a $1M dollar life insurance policy, do you want your 18 year old receiving that?

Commencement of Powers

For Healthcare and Financial Powers of Attorney, this is the time frame you want them to take effect. If you select immediately, then your Agent can make decisions for you right now or handle financial matters right now. If you choose to “wait until incapacitated”, then they won’t take effect until you can no longer make decisions for yourself.

End-Stage Condition

This is an advanced, progressive and incurable condition resulting in complete dependency – Like advanced Alzheimer’s disease. There’s no going backwards.

Permanently Unconscious/Vegetative States

A persistent vegetative state is due to a partial death of the brain from which a person cannot recover. This is tricky. People can breathe on their own, have reflexes (like smiling, sounds, follow with their eyes), and may survive for years on artificial feeding tubes and other life support.

Organ Donation

Some states have organizations that you can setup a donation agreement ahead of time. But you can ultimately decide if you want your whole body to be donated, only parts of your body donated, is it for medical treatment or scientific research? Or no donation at all!


This take the legitness to an even more legit level. You can typically find a notary at a bank, state/county building, and google. Seriously, just google “find a notary” and you’ll find one. The UPS Store even has notary services.

Per Stirpes

This means your children share equally in the distribution, with the share of a deceased child shared equally among the deceased child’s children.

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