In the areas of law that I practice, Connecticut Elder Law and Estates & Probate, I have found that certain acronyms are used quite frequently.
It occurred to me that some acronyms, although utilized by lawyers as an attempt to efficiently deliver a message, actually serve as an impediment to meaning as opposed to a facilitator of it. After all, one of Laurence Peter’s quotations in his Quotations for Our Time was,
“The minute you read something you cannot understand,
you can always be sure it was drawn up by a lawyer.”
So, with the above in mind, the following is a list of acronyms that you may be exposed to when talking with a lawyer:
- FBO – “For the benefit of” A statement which indicates a beneficiary within a document.
- GAL – “Guardian ad Litem” A person appointed by a court to advocate for one’s best interests.
- ITF – “In trust for” This is, essentially, a form of ownership wherein one party holds funds in a bank account in trust for another party.
- IRA – “Individual retirement account” There are many different IRAs such as the following: traditional IRA, Roth IRA, Simple IRA, and self-directed IRA.
- POA – “Power of attorney” A power of attorney, also known as an attorney in fact, is an agent, or authorized representation, who can act on another person’s behalf.
- POD – “Payable on death” This acronym is usually applied when funds are held solely by a decedent during his or her lifetime and are then payable to a third party or parties at his or her death.
- QPRT – “Qualified personal residence trust” This is an estate planning tool to reduce estate tax liability.
- SSI – “Supplemental security income” Federal income supplement program designed to help aged, blind, and disabled people who have little to no income.
- TOD – “Transfer on death” This acronym is used when a decedent intends on transferring securities to a beneficiary.
The world is full of acronyms, the above are just a few that we use. It is important for you to know what they stand for as well as how they impact you.