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 "F" - simply scroll down the list below. If your word or phrase starts with another letter, please use the alphabet index below.



Family Trust

A "family trust" is a trust established for the benefit of family members. A family trust is not intended to qualify for the estate or gift tax marital deduction. However, the assets transferred to a family trust do qualify for the unified credit. The terms "credit shelter trust" and "decedent’s trust" are synonymous with the term "family trust." A family trust may be created as part of a last will and testament or as part of a revocable living trust. See "marital trust."



The term "fiduciary" is used to describe a person or entity that is acting for or on behalf of another person. Fiduciaries include guardians, executors, administrators, conservators, and trustees. Fiduciaries are held to a high standard of care under the law because they are acting on behalf of someone else (i.e., a ward, a minor child, an incompetent person, a decedent’s estate, a beneficiary).

Forced Heirship

The term "forced heirship" refers to the testamentary laws of certain countries (particularly civil law countries and muslim countries) that limit a testator's right to distribute assets under a will or codicil upon death. The general theory behind the forced heirship concept is that a testator should make adequate provisions for dependents upon death and should not leave dependents destitute. Under the forced heirship laws, if a testator does not make adequate provisions for dependents under a will or codicil, then the law will require that a certain percentage of the testator's estate be given to his or her dependents notwithstanding the provisions of the will or codicil.

Louisiana is the only state in the United States that provides for forced heirship; that is, a percentage of a testator's estate must be left to his or her children.

Reference:   Louisiana Civil Code, Sec. 1493 (Forced heirs, representation of forced heirs); Sec 1494 (Forced heir entitled to legitime; exception); Sec. 1495 (Amount of forced portion and disposable portion); Sec 1496  (Permissible burdens on legitime).


Future interest

The term "future interest" means an interest in the principal and/or income of a trust that a beneficiary is not entitled to use and enjoy immediately. A future interest may be vested or contingent, depending upon the terms of the trust governing instrument. If there are no contingencies that could defeat the future interest, then the future interest is said to be vested. If there are contingencies that have to be satisfied before a future interest becomes vested, then the future interest is said to be contingent. For example, a trust instrument provides that Jeff shall receive $5,000 on January 1, 2010. Jeff’s interest is a vested future interest. If the trust instrument provided that Jeff shall receive $5,000 on January 1, 2010 provided he is living on that date, then Jeff’s interest would be a contingent future interest.