Estate (Finance)

Definition

The term estate refers to the total of all the assets that a person owns, after subtracting debt owed to others.  An individual's estate includes property held directly as well as interests and entitlements to property.

Explanation

Of particular importance during bankruptcy proceedings and the death of an individual, and as used in the context of financial planning, the word estate is oftentimes synonymous with the term net worth.   In this context, an individual's estate consists of all the assets they own, less liabilities or money owed to creditors.  The term estate can also refer to land or property of historic significance or value.

When used in the context of bankruptcy, an individual's estate includes all of the assets that can be distributed to creditors, typically administered through a trustee.  When used in the context of the death of an individual, the estate includes those assets that can be passed on to the individual's heirs.  Since death is inevitable, it can be argued that estate planning involves the most important financial decisions made by investors.

Related Terms

custodial agreement, discretionary beneficiary, privity, continuous contract, assignable contract, insurance cutoff, provisional notice of cancellation, bare trust, complex trust