Estate Planning has its own vocabulary. To help you speak the language, we've created a glossary of the more commonly used words and phrases. This glossary is comprised of 26 individual pages, one for each letter of the alphabet. To find a particular word or phrase that starts with the letter "G" - simply scroll down the list below. If your word or phrase starts with another letter, please use the alphabet index below.



Generation-skipping Tax (GST)

A "generation-skipping tax" is a tax imposed upon a transfer of property to a skip person. A "skip person" is a person who is two generations younger than the transferor. For example, a transfer of property from a grandfather to a grandson is subject to the GST because the transfer skipped a generation; i.e., the transferor’s son. In addition to the generation-skipping tax, a skip transfer is also subject to the federal estate tax. The reason for the GST is quite simple. The estate tax is intended to be levied on each generation. In our example, if the grandfather had transferred his property to his son, an estate tax would have been paid by his estate. Upon the son’s subsequent death, the son's estate would pay another estate tax on the same property now passing to the grandson. By eliminating his son and transferring the property directly to the grandson, the estate tax was eliminated upon the son’s death. The GST is designed to eliminate that tax-avoidance technique. Not all generation-skipping transfers result in a generation-skipping tax. First, the GST does not apply if the skipped person is not living at the time of the transfer; i.e., the son in our example. Second, individuals are given a lifetime exemption that shields $1,000,000 in generation-skipping transfers from the generation-skipping tax. This amount is indexed for inflation and has been raised to $1,010,000. A married couple is entitled to a combined lifetime exemption that shields $2,020,000 in generation-skipping transfers from the generation-skipping tax.

Generation-skipping trust

A "generation-skipping trust" is a trust that is designed specifically to hold the amount exempt from the generation-skipping tax. See "generation-skipping tax (GST)."

Gift Causa Mortis

The term "gift causa mortis" refers to a gift made in contemplation of death. See the definition of "causa mortis."

Gifts causa mortis require donative intent, delivery, and acceptance, just as any other lifetime gift (see "inter-vivos gift"). However, a gift causa mortis must also be made in contemplation of death; i.e., the donor must believe that death is imminent. The distinguishing factor between a lifetime gift ("inter-vivos" gift) and a gift causa mortis is that a lifetime gift is unconditional and non-revocable, whereas a gift causa mortis is both conditional (the gift is conditioned upon the donor's death occuring imminently) and revocable (the gift may be revoked by the donor at any time prior to his imminent death).

For further explanation of a gift causa mortis, including a number of good examples that help to explain the concept of a gift causa mortis, please see Gifts (inter vivos and causa mortis) - material adopted from Gary W. Beyer, Professor of Law, Texas Tech University School of Law.


The term "grantor" is often used to describe a person who establishes or creates a trust. See also the terms "donor," "settlor," and "trustor," which are used synonymously with the term "grantor."


A "guardian" is a person or entity that represents the interests of a minor or incompetent person. A natural guardian (i.e., a parent) is a guardian of his or her natural-born or adopted children as a matter of law. When the natural guardian is not able to act as such, then the court may appoint a guardian. A guardian is a fiduciary.

Guardian ad litem

A "guardian ad litem" is a person or entity appointed by the court to represent the interests of a minor or incompetent person.