Because of intimidating--and often misleading--terminology, planned giving can seem much harder than it really is. For example, an "estate" often invokes images of mansions and wealth. It might be surprising to know that an estate is simply a person’s possessions - and we all have those!

Here are what a few of those intimidating terms really mean:

  • Appreciated PropertyProperty such as real estate, securities or other valuable items, that has increased in value since it was acquired.

  • BeneficiaryAny person or entity (like a charity) who is to receive assets or profits from an estate, a trust, an insurance policy or any instrument in which there is a distribution.

  • BequestA gift of personal property under the terms of a will. A bequest can be of specific assets or the "residue" (what is left after specific gifts have been made) of an estate.

  • Charitable remainder trustA type of trust in which the donor places assets into an irrevocable trust, in which the assets are to go to charity upon the death of the donor and the donor will receive regular income from the trust during the donor's lifetime.

  • EstateAll of the non-beneficiary property held (including cars, house, furniture, etc.) by an individual in sole name at their death. This property is subject to probate.

  • EndowmentA transfer of money or property donated to an institution. In some circumstances, an endowment may be required to be spent in a certain way with the principal to remain intact in perpetuity or for a defined time period. This allows for the donation to have an impact over a longer period of time than if it were spent all at once.

  • Estate TaxA federal tax on the transfer of a dead person's assets to his heirs and beneficiaries. Although a transfer tax, it is based on the amount in the decedent's estate (including distribution from a trust at the death) and can include insurance proceeds.

  • Executor (or Personal Representative)The person appointed to administer the estate of a person who has died.

  • Non-profit organizationAn organization operating for educational, charitable, social, religious, civic or humanitarian purposes that can solicit and receive donations on a tax deductible basis.

  • ProbateThe entire process of administration of estates of dead persons, including those without wills, with court supervision.

  • TrustA legal instrument created for the benefit of the Grantor during his or her lifetime and distribution to beneficiaries will take place according to the terms of the trust upon Grantor's death.

  • WillA written document which leaves the estate of the person who signed the will to named persons or entities upon his or her death.