Basic Terminology


Agent: A person who is authorized by Power of Attorney or Directive to act on another's behalf.

Annuity: A financial instrument that pays out the investor's earnings on a regular, periodic basis for a set amount of time. Annuities typically are used to provide funds for retirement.

Beneficiary: Recipient of assets as a result of the death of a decedent, either by Last Will and Testament, trust, or transfer.

Codicil: An amendment or an addition to a Last Will and Testament, authenticated by the testator.

Guardian: A person who is entrusted by law with the care of the person or property, or both, of another, such as a minor or someone legally incapable of managing his or her own affairs.

Intangible Personal Property: Property that represents a right, rather than a physical object, such as stocks, bonds, bank accounts, promissory notes, or mortgages.

Intestacy: The state or condition of dying without having made a valid Last Will and Testament.

Jointly-Owned with Right of Survivorship: A form of ownership created between two or more individuals or entities, each party holding title to a fractional interest. At the death of one of the owners, the survivor(s) assume ownership of the decedent's interest in the property.

Non-Probate Assets: All assets whose distribution is controlled by a contract or written agreement entered into previously by the decedent. Non-probate assets are not subject to Orphan's Court.

Personal Representative: Executor of a decedent's Last Will and Testament, trustee of a decedent's trust, or an administrator designated by the Register of Wills or Orphans' Court.

Probate Assets: All assets whose distribution is controlled by the decedent's Last Will and Testament or the PA intestate statute. (See intestacy above.)

Real Property: An estate or property consisting of lands and of all appurtenances to lands, such as buildings, crops, or mineral rights.

Tangible Personal Property: Property that can be touched or felt; a physical object, such as household items, jewelry, etc.

Tenants by the Entireties: A form of ownership created between a husband and wife by which together they hold title to the whole property with right of survivorship. At the death of one of the owners, the survivor continues to hold title to the entire property.

Tenants in Common: A form of ownership whereby each owner holds an undivided interest in the property which, at the death of one of the owners, passes to the deceased person's heirs, either by will or intestacy.

Testamentary: Pertaining to a Last Will and Testament.

Transferee: Person who receives something of value from the decedent by virtue of a transfer made prior to the decedent's death, or by virtue of a contract or signature card which provided for ownership to be transferred after the date of death.

Trust: A legal title to property held by one party (trustee) for the benefit of another (beneficiary).

Trustee: A natural or legal person to whom property is legally entrusted to be administered for the benefit of a beneficiary.

If you would like more information about Pennsylvania Elder Law, Business Law or Tax Law, please contact an experienced attorney who is also a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) via email or phone us at (724) 216.6551 at our Greensburg, Pennsylvania office.

The Iezzi Law Office serves clients in southwestern Pennsylvania, including Greensburg, Pittsburgh, Delmont, Monroeville, Murrysville, Latrobe, Irwin, Uniontown, Connellsville, Indiana, Somerset, and other towns located in Westmoreland County, Allegheny County, Fayette County, Indiana County, and Somerset County.