An executor is a person who is given legal responsibility for handling the estate of a deceased person. The executor is chosen either through the will of the deceased person or by the courts if no executor is named in a will. Responsibilities of the executor includes disposing of the property according to the directions given by the will, if there is one, and pay the bills and the taxes for the estate.


A beneficiary is the person or persons who stand to inherit assets either through a will or a trust. Beneficiaries are typically natural persons but can also be companies or organizations.


A trustee is a holder of property on behalf of a beneficiary of a trust. A trustee holds many of the same responsibilities as an executor. The trustee distributes the property according to the dictates of the trust and pays bills and taxes. The inital trustee is typically the trustor (the one who establishes the trust). The trustor typically names a successor trustee who will serve at either the death or incapacity of the trustor. If the trustor does not name a successor trustee or the named successor trustee is not able to serve in that capacity then the court will name a successor trustee.

Durable Power of Attorney

A durable power of attorney allows an individual to appoint an agent that will act on their behalf in case you become mentally incapacitated and can no longer handle your affairs on your own. A durable power of attorney for management of property and personal affairs specifically allows the appointed agent to be able to manage property and personal finances for the incapacitated individual. This management could be anything from mundane tasks such as paying bills, to more complex tasks like managing investments.

Advanced Healthcare Directive

An advanced healthcare directive allows an individual to plan for what will happen regarding their healthcare if thery are no longer able to make decisions on their own either due to illness or decreased mental capacity. There are two main parts to an advanced healthcare directive. The first is appointing an agent to act in the individual's behalf if they are no longer able to make decisions on their own. The second is the living will where specific instructions about ones healthcare can be written down in a legally binding document. Often the agent for an Advanced Healthcare Directive and the agent for the Durable Power of Attorney are the same people, although it is not necessary.