Glossary

Click one of the letters above to advance the page to terms beginning with that letter.

A

Agent or attorney-in-fact

An agent or attorney-in-fact is a person who is named in the power of attorney by the principal to act on his or her behalf. That person is a fiduciary under Texas law.

Annual Account

An annual account is the report the guardian of the estate must prepare and file with the court each year that details all of the income received by the estate and all expenditures paid out from the estate for the year.

B

Beneficiary

A beneficiary is a person who receives money or property from a revocable trust. 

Bond

A bond is an insurance policy that the guardian of the estate must get and file with the court before managing an incapacitated person's estate.

C

Co-trustee

When a trust has more than one trustee, a co-trustee refers to each person or financial institution acting as a trustee.

Confidential relationship

A confidential relationship arises when one person places a high level of trust and confidence in another. A supporter has a confidential relationship with the person who appointed him or her. Thus, the supporter has a responsibility to live up to that trust by exercising his or her authority only for that person’s benefit and by keeping all personal information private. 

Conflict of interest

A conflict of interest occurs when a decision puts what is best for one person ahead of what is best for the other person. A guardian of the estate must avoid conflicts of interest by managing the incapacitated person's estate in the way that is best for the incapaciated person regardless of what might be good for the guardian or others.

D

Durable power of attorney

A durable power of attorney is a power of attorney in which a principal names an agent whose power to manage the principal’s money and property is not affected by the principal losing the ability to make decisions for himself or herself.

E

Estate

The estate is all of the money and property owned by the incapacitated person.

F

Fiduciary

A fiduciary is a person who has a special relationship to act for another person. A fiduciary must act in the other person's best interest at all times and must be diligent, trustworthy, and honest in doing so. A guardian of the estate is a fiduciary to the incapacitated person and owes fiduciary dutues.

G

Guardian of the estate

A guardian of the estate is a person appointed by a court to manage the money and property of an incapacitated person or ward.

Guardian of the person

A guardian of the person is a person appointed by a court to make decisions regarding the personal well-being of an incapacitated person, including decisions about medical care, employment, and living arrangements. One person may be apppointed as both guardian of the estate and guardian of the person, or the court may appoint two different people.

I

Incapacitated person or ward

An incapacitated person, also known as a ward, is the person for whom the court has appointed a guardian because he or she cannot manage his or her own personal or financial affairs because of a mental or physical condition.

Inventory

An inventory is a complete list of all money and property owned by the incapacitated person. Within 30 days of becoming guardian of the estate, the guardian must make an inventory and file it with the court.

L

Letters of guardianship

The letters of guardianship is the document issued by the court to the guardian of the estate that shows the guardian has authority to manage the incapaciated person's estate.

M

Medical power of attorney

A medical power of attorney is a power of attorney that names an agent who has the power to make certain medical decisions for the principal. A medical power of attorney may be accompanied by a directive to physicians or an out of hospital do not resuscitate (“DNR”) order. We do not discuss these documents in this Guide. If you want more information about them, contact the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services or click “Where to Go for Help” in the “Resources” section of the toolkit.

P

Power of attorney

A written document signed by a person giving another person the power to act in conducting the signer's business, including signing papers, checks, title documents, contracts, handling bank accounts and other activities in the name of the person granting the power. The person receiving the power of attorney (which means agent) is "attorney in fact" for the person giving the power, and usually signs documents as "Melinda Hubbard, attorney in fact for Guilda Giver." There are two types of powers of attorney: a) general power of attorney which covers all activities, and b) special power of attorney which grants powers limited to specific matters, such as selling a particular piece of real estate, handling some bank accounts, or executing a limited partnership agreement. A power of attorney may expire on a date stated in the document or upon written cancellation. Usually the signer acknowledges before a notary public that he/she executed the power, so that it is recordable if necessary, as in a real estate transaction.

Principal

The principal is the person who makes the power of attorney.

R

Representative payee

A representative payee is the person appointed by a government agency, such as the Social Security Administration, the Office of Personnel Management, or the Railroad Retirement Administration, to mange the income benefits of a person who needs help managing those benefits.

Revocable trust

A revocable trust is a fiduciary arrangement created by a trust agreement (also known as a trust instrument) between a settlor (also known as a grantor) and a trustee that allows the trustee to manage the money or property that is transferred to the trust for the benefit of the beneficiaries of the trust.

S

Settlor, or grantor

A settlor (grantor) is the person who created the revocable trust.
 

Springing power of attorney

A springing power of attorney is a power of attorney in which a principal names an agent whose power to manage the principal’s money and property springs into existence only after the principal becomes incapacitated. The power of attorney may require a written certification of incapacity by a physician.

Statutory durable power of attorney

A statutory durable power of attorney is a durable power of attorney made using the form adopted by the Texas Legislature.

Successor trustee

A successor trustee is a backup trustee that acts only if a trustee can no longer fulfill that role.

Supported decision-making agreement

A supported decision-making agreement is an agreement through which a person who can make his or her own life decisions but needs help doing so names a person to help make decisions. 
 

Supporter

A supporter is a person named in a supported decision-making agreement to help make decisions. A supporter has authority to take certain actions (for example, obtain medical or financial records) as necessary to help make informed decisions and to communicate those decisions to others as appropriate.

T

Trust agreement, or a trust instrument

A trust agreement, or trust instrument, is the document by which the settlor (also known as a grantor) and a trustee establish the ground rules for managing the money or property that is transferred to the trust.

Trustee

A trustee is the person or financial institution designated in the trust agreement, or trust instrument, to manage the money or property that is transferred to the trust.

V

VA fiduciary

A VA fiduciary is the person appointed by the Department of Veterans Affairs to manage the income benefits of a person who needs help managing those benefits.