Understand The Roles In Your Will

It probably all made sense during your estate plan - until you get home and someone asks you about their role in your will. We've put together this handy glossary of estate planning roles and responsibilities so you fully understand who's doing what if you die or become incapacitated. 


When it comes to your death team its important to understand which job is going to go to which person, so you can be sure you've got the best possible chance at winning.

Advanced Care Directive

A way to say what healthcare treatments you would like to have or refuse, should you be in a position where you are seriously ill or injured and unable to make or communicate decisions about your care and treatment.


A person or entity named in a Will or financial or insurance contract as the inheritor of the property when the property owner dies.


Refers to all the assets of the deceased at the time of death.


The person (or persons) appointed in the will to settle the estate. The appointment in the will gives them the authority to do what is required to deal with the assets and debts of the estate as per the deceased's wishes (where applicable). Can also be called Estate Trustee, Personal Representative, or Administrator.


This term is used when someone dies without a will. It means that the estate doesn't have an executor and someone will need to apply to be appointed as such by the court. This also means that what remains in the estate after all debts are paid is distributed according to the intestacy laws in the jurisdiction where the deceased resided.

Power of Attorney

An authorisation to act on someone else's behalf in a legal, business, or health matter while they are living. A power of attorney may be limited to one specific act or type of act or it may be general.


The legal process where a person's will is reviewed and validated by the court.

Testamentary Guardian

A testamentary guardian is a person who is responsible for taking care of the daily and long-term needs of the children of the deceased if there is no surviving parent and there are no other court orders stating who the child shall live with.

Testamentary Trust

A testamentary trust is created to safeguard some of all of the deceased person's assets for the benefit of others. There are many types of assets that can be held in trust. A testamentary trust is established as part of a will and only begins upon the death of the person who made the will.

[a strong] Will

A legal declaration in writing by which a person, the testator, names one or more persons to manage their estate in a manner that doesn't punish people after death or leave any nasty surprises. This also includes providing instructions as to how their wishes will be carried out so nobody has to make things up as they go along or argue with their family after the testator has died.

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