Administrator- a person or institution appointed by a court to act on the behalf of the deceased person in connection with the administration of their estate.

Administrator with Will Annexed (for Administrator CTA)- an administrator appointed by a court to act on behalf of the deceased person who left a will, but where no nominated executor is willing and able to act.

Advancement- when a beneficiary receives property from a ‘will’, and the maker of the ‘will’ is still alive. Receiving inherited property from someone before the person is deceased.

Age of Majority- official ‘adulthood’. The age where a person can legally manage their own affairs and own property, make a will, enter contracts, vote etc. In most States/Countries the ‘age of majority’ is eighteen.

Alternate Beneficiary- a person who ‘takes the place’ of the primary beneficiary; if the primary beneficiary does not accept the inheritance, or if the primary beneficiary has passed away.

Ancillary Probate- probate that takes place in a different State/Country, other than where the decedent resided at the time of death.

Attestation- serving as a ‘witness’ to someone that signs a legal document.

Augmented Estate- property that belongs to both the deceased person, and the surviving spouse. If the deceased person participated in an ‘advancement’; then this property is also considered ‘augmented’.

Beneficiary- the individual or corporation who receives the benefit of a transaction. For example, the beneficiary of a life insurance policy, trust or a will.

Bond- an insurance policy that protects beneficiaries and heirs from any losses occurred as a result of the executor being dishonest or careless.

Codicil- a document that add additional information to a ‘will’. Usually used to reinforce or fill a deficiency. It acts just like a ‘will’ in that it must be signed and ‘witnessed’.

Community Property- real or personal property that is owned in common by husband and wife or marital partnership.

Consanguinity- used to describe ‘blood’ relatives.

Conservator- a ‘court appointed’ person that manages the affairs of someone who can no longer make ‘day to day’ decisions form themselves. Also known as a ‘guardian’.

Corpus- property that is held in ‘trust’. Also known as ‘principal’.

Custodian- a person appointed to manage property on behalf of a minor. 

Decedent- a deceased person.

Deed- legal document that shows legal ownership of a property.

Devise- a gift left in a ‘will’. Including gifts of ‘real property’.

Devisee- someone who inherits a devise.

Discharge- a court order that releases an executor from his/her duties.  Usually occurs once the probate process has been fully completed.

Discovery- a pre-trial procedure in which each party may obtain evidence or information from the other party by requesting answers to questions and asking for evidence of certain documentations.

Domicile- permanent place of residence.

Elective Share- the portion of a decedent’s property that the surviving spouse is entitled to claim.

Encumbrance- any debt owed against an asset.

Escheat- when a deceased person has no heirs or will any property or assets they owned is transferred to the State.

Estate- all the assets owned by a person, their ‘net worth’, usually referenced upon their death.

Estate Taxes (Federal)- the death taxes imposed by the federal government on the transfer of assets upon death.

Executor- the individual or corporation appointed in a will by a testator to take care of the testator’s property after his death. Also known as a personal representative.

Ex Parte- a judicial proceeding granted without notice.

Fair Market Value- the value of an item on the ‘open market’; usually used in real estate.

Fiduciary- a person charged with a high degree of care who acts on behalf of another. Executors and trustees are fiduciaries.

Grantor- a seller or conveyor of property.

Grantee- the buyer of a property or a person whom receives ownership of a title.

Gross Estate- the value of a deceased person’s property and assets (including all of the debt that the person owned).

Guardian- the individual or corporation who legally has charge of the care and management of the person, property, or both, of a child during his minority.

Heir- a person who inherits property under state law.

Inheritance- to receive a gift or money as a result of someone’s death.

Inheritance Taxes- the taxes imposed, according to the relationship to the deceased person, on the person who receives the property.

Interrogatory- request for additional information (see Discovery).

Inter vivos trust- used in estate planning to create a fiduciary relationship, and includes details regarding the distribution of assets to the beneficiary during or after the trustor’s lifetime.

Intestate- refers to someone who dies leaving no will.

Inventory- a list of all property and assets that was owned by a deceased person.

Irrevocable Trust- a trust whose terms and provisions cannot be changed, modified, altered, amended, or revoked.

Letters of Testamentary- a document issued by the probate court that authorizes someone to serve as the executor of an estate when there is a ‘will’.

Liquidate- the act of selling a person’s assets to pay off a debt, or to simply get rid of the items.

Personal Representative- another name for executor or administrator.

Probate- the legal process of resolving the debts of a deceased person and distributing their property under a ‘will.’

Pro per/Pro Se- this is a term used to describe a person that does not have an attorney and is representing themselves in a legal matter.

Real Property- real estate or any property directly attached to the land and the land itself.

Trust- a legal entity established either during a trustor’s lifetime (inter vivos) or at his/her death (testamentary). The trust is governed by the terms set forth in the trust documents. A trust must have a trustee, beneficiary, and a ‘corpus’ or property subjected to the trust.

Trustee- the individual or corporation who in a trust has bare legal title to the assets and has the power given in the trust to carry out the wishes of the person or persons who created the trust.

Trustor- the person or persons who establish a trust.

Will- a document prepared and executed by a person with the formality required by the laws of the state of his primary residence at the time the will was created. Intended to govern and direct the disposition of his/her estate and settlement of his legal affairs at the time of his death. A will has no legal affect until the time of a person’s death.

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