Important Terms in New York Estate Planning

When dealing with estate planning in New York, there is unique terminology used. Knowing these terms can make it easier to understand the various roles of assistance in an estate plan and help to understand the process better as well. The following are some of the important terms and definitions that often come into play in estate planning cases in New York.


In New York, the executor is the person appointed by will to manage the affairs of the estate.


In a trust, the grantor is the person who establishes the trust.

Last Will and Testament

The last will and testament is the document that is found by the court to having been executed in accordance with the statutory requirements where a person disposes of their estate.

Advanced Medical Directive

An advance medical directive (or advance health care directive) is a document a person can create that spells out their medical wishes, should they become unable to make decisions for themselves. It tells healthcare providers what the person’s views are about certain medical situations, such as the use of a respirator or certain drugs to keep the person alive if they become very ill.


Probate is the process by which a will is presented to the court. After examining the circumstances and the affidavits of witnesses, the court determines whether it was done in accordance with the statute. The court will want to see that it was not the result of undue influence, and that the person who created it had the capacity to do so. The court uses this process to confirm the will as a valid instrument to dispose of the decedent’s property.


Intestacy is dying without a will. It can be very complicated to dispose of a person’s assets when no will is present.

Power of Attorney

When a person assigns power of attorney, they delegate to another individual or individuals the right to make decisions for them.


There are many types of guardianships. When a person becomes incapable of making decisions for themselves or signing official documents and contracts, a person can be appointed to be their guardian by the court. Guardianship is also used when a child inherits or comes into money some other way, and the court appoints a person to be the guardian of that child. There are also cases where guardians are appointed for disabled children when they turn 18 or 21, so that someone can sign documents for them and take care of their medical and financial affairs.