Estate planning glossary

13. Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 (EGTRRA) -- An act that changed tax laws in several regards. It changed the estate tax, gift tax and generation skipping transfer tax. It may be most notable for establishing a repeal of the federal estate and generation-skipping transfer taxes for one year, 2010. In the years leading up to 2010, the amount of money able to be excluded from the estate tax gradually increases to $3.5 million in 2009.

14. Election against the will -- Sometimes called "take against the will." A surviving spouse's right to take a certain state-designated percentage of the assets, rather than a lesser amount that was left in a will.

15. Estate -- All the property one owns and has an interest in at death, including real estate, chattel and investments.

16. Estate plan -- A strategy for leaving property to loved ones and minimizing the impact of federal and state estate taxes.

17. Estate tax -- Also called the death tax. A tax imposed by the federal government and by some states on the transfer of property at death. Because of the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001, an estate of more than $2 million currently triggers the federal estate tax. In 2009 up to $3.5 million can be excluded from the tax and in 2010 there will be no estate tax. In 2011, the exclusion will revert to $1 million unless Congress acts before then.

18. Executor -- A person chosen by the decedent and named in the will to manage the decedent's affairs and settle the estate.

19. Fiduciary -- A person entrusted and legally and ethically obligated to act in the best interests of someone else. A trustee, executor or guardian is a fiduciary.

20. Form 1310 -- An IRS form used to claim a refund for a deceased taxpayer.

21. Gift tax -- A graduated federal tax paid by persons who make gifts exceeding a level determined annually by the IRS.

22. Grantor -- Creator of a trust, also known as the settler or trustor.

23. Guardian -- An adult who has been legally named as the caretaker of another, usually a minor child. This person can either be responsible for the person's personal care and property, or just one of the two.

24. Health care proxy -- A type of advance medical directive in which a person is named to act on someone else's behalf in a medical situation.

25. Heir -- Either a person legally entitled to receive property from a family member who died without a will, or in the modern usage of the word, anyone who inherits something from a decedent�s estate.

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