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Wills, Probate & Estate Planning Terms

Advance Directive for Health Care/Living Will

A document stating your treatment preferences for medical care should you become ill, mentally disabled or unable to communicate your wishes.


Executor/Personal Representative

The person you designate as responsible for carrying out the arrangements specified by you in your Will. This may include filing of tax returns, hiring an attorney or accountant if necessary, paying creditors, and filing a final accounting with the Court.


Guardian

A person appointed by the court to oversee the physical and financial care of a child, a minor, or someone who is incapable of making their own decisions due to a physical or mental disability.


Instruction Directive/Living Will

A document that provides instructions for your health care treatment should you become ill, mentally disabled, or are unable to make your own decisions.


Intestate

The estate of a person who dies without a Will. If you die without a Will the laws of the State in which you were resident at the time of your death will determine who will represent your estate and to whom your assets will be distributed.


Letters Testamentary

A Court Order (from the Surrogate’s Court) allowing the executor to carry out the directives in the Will.


Proxy Directive/Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care/Medical Power of Attorney

A document that designates the person you appoint to make health care decisions for you should you become incapacitated due to severe injury, illness, mental disability, or are otherwise unable to communicate your wishes.


Power of Attorney

A document that gives authority to another person(s) to act on your behalf financially, for business purposes, or in other situations. You are the principal. The person you designate is the agent / attorney in fact


Probate

Upon death, a legal procedure which authorizes a Will as being valid. This requires going to the Surrogate’s Court in the county where the decedent lived and presenting the original Will and a death certificate.


Short Certificate

A document issued by the Surrogate’s Court, which the executor uses as proof of their appointment when they close bank accounts, transfer property, and take other actions on behalf of the estate of the decedent.


Surrogate

In each county of New Jersey, the Surrogate is the elected individual who, among other duties, validates the Will of a deceased person and sees that the Will is properly executed by the named executor.


Testamentary Guardianship

If you have a child or oversee the care of a minor or someone who is incapable of making their own decisions due to a physical or mental disability, you should name a person in your Will, referred to as the “guardian,” to take care of that minor or disabled person upon your death. The “guardian” will have custody of the minor and will be responsible for making all necessary decisions for that minor. Such decisions may include educational, financial, or medical decisions and/or helping to handle shopping and everyday care activities.


Trust

There are numerous types of trusts used in estate planning. Trusts involve a “trustee” (the person who holds money/assets) and a “beneficiary” (the person who benefits from the money/assets). The “trustor” /“grantor”/ “donor”/“settlor” is the person who generally provides the money/assets and creates the trust that provides personal or financial support to the beneficiary. A “testamentary” trust is a trust created as part of your Will and begins at your death. An “inter vivos trust” begins when you create it and continues during your lifetime or until revoked.


Will/Testament

A document that states your wishes for distribution of your property after death. No matter the size of the estate, a Will is of great importance. Not only does it specify who will carry out the terms of the Will (executor), but it ensures that your assets and property are distributed to the intended persons in the desired amounts and as otherwise directed by you.


Will Contest

The validity of a will may be contested and litigation may end up being the only method to resolve the conflict. Most often a Will contest is due to a claim that the deceased was mentally deficient or was under improper influence while making the Will.

  • Big Brothers Big Sisters Autumn Culinaire

    The firm is pleased to be a sponsor at the Big Brothers Big Sisters Mercer October 17 fundraiser event at Cobblestone Creek Country Club in Lawrence, New Jersey. The event features dishes from several of the area's finest restaurants, tastings of wine and beer and live music. The evening will honor individuals who volunteer time and commitment making BBBS Mercer a success. For more information go to www.bbbsmercer.org

  • Communities of Light Launch October 22

    Womanspace's Annual Communities of Light Event on December 2nd is a public awareness project and fundraising campaign to benefit victims and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. The launch event is free and open to the public. It includes a press conference and reception and will take place at 5:30 PM on October 22 at Terhune Orchards, 330 Cold Soil Road in Lawrenceville. Edwin Schmierer, Director with Mason, Griffin & Pierson is a member of the Board of Directors of Womanspace and the firm is a sponsor of the event. The event will honor the Police Chiefs and coordinators of Mercer County. More information at www.womanspace.org.

  • Philly Pops Concert October 5

    Mason, Griffin & Pierson is pleased to be a sponsor at the Philly Pops concert to benefit The Foundation of Morris Hall/St. Lawrence, Inc. The Foundation provides funding for skilled nursing, out patient health care, and rehabilitation for residents at Morris Hall and St. Lawrence Rehabilitation Center. The concert will be at the Patriots Theater, Trenton War Memorial. For information and tickets go to www.morrishall.org/events.php

  • Girls on the Run

    The firm is a sponsor for the November 24 Girls on the Run Central New Jersey 5K in downtown Somerville, New Jersey. Girls on the Run is a program for girls in grades 3 through 8 which teaches girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running. Associate Attorney Nicole Sciotto is member of the Advisory Board of Girls on the Run, Central New Jersey Chapter. For more information, including donations and race registration, please visit www.gotrcnj.org.

  • West Windsor Mayor's Ball

    The firm is a sponsor for the November 2 West Windsor Mayor's Ball. The event takes place at the Boathouse on Mercer Lake in West Windsor and benefits the Princeton Junction Volunteer Fire Company. For more information go to www.westwindsornj.org/WW-givesback/index.html.

  • Cecil on New Jersey Municipal League Conference Panels

    Trishka Waterbury Cecil, past President of the New Jersey Institute of Local Government Attorneys (NJILGA), is a presenter at the New Jersey State League of Municipalities Conference in Atlantic City. Mandatory Certification Class For New Board Members, sponsored by New Jersey Planning Officials is on November 19. Muincipal Law Update 2019, sponsored by New Jersey Institute of Local Government Attorneys, and OPMA/Civility/Administration of Public Meetings, sponsored by New Jersey State League of Municipalities are on November 21. For more information, go to www.njpo.org, www.njilga.org or www.njlm.org.