Important Probate Terms Defined

The Probate process can seem both overwhelming and complicated. Understanding the most commonly used probate terms associated with this process can be helpful, especially for those who have never gone through probate before.

Here is a list of some important terms to know along with definitions.

Administrator – A person named in the will and/or appointed by the Probate Court to oversee the probate process and the distribution of the will’s assets.

Ancillary Administration – The administration of property owned by a decedent located in a state other than the domicile of the decedent.

Beneficiary – A person or organization named in the will to inherit a certain asset.

Codicil – A codicil is a written supplement, or amendment, to an existing will.

Conservatee – A person whom the court determines to be unable to manage their own personal and/or financial affairs.

Conservator – The person or organization the court appoints to manage and protect the financial and/or personal care of a conservatee.

Decedent – The person who has passed away and whose estate will be the focus of the probate process.

Domicile – A permanent place of residence.

Escheat – When a person who dies without a will and has no surviving heirs, the property reverts, or escheats to the state.

Estate – The property (comprised of a person’s total assets and/or possessions) a decedent has left behind.

Executor – The Executor is the person who the deceased person named in their will to carry out the wishes outlined in the will. The Executor is also known as the Personal Representative (PR) of the decedent’s Estate.

Grantor – An individual or corporation who transfers property to another person.

Guardian – A person who manages and protects the financial and/or personal care of a minor, or ward. A guardian is appointed by the probate court.

Heir – An Heir is a person who inherits property from a person who died

Intestate – The situation in which a decedent does not leave behind a will. This can include situations in which a will is deemed invalid by the court (For example – the decedent was
“not of sound mind” when the will was drafted/executed).

Joint Tenancy – Property owned jointly by two or more persons.

Limited Conservatorship – Generally, for developmentally disabled adults

Petition – A legal document filed with the court that represents a formal written request to the court for a specific action or order.

Probate – The legal process of validating a will and resolving the maters of a decedent’s estate. While the probate process will include paying all of an estate’s creditors and taxes, it will also involve inventorying, appraising and – ultimately – distributing the assets of the estate.

Probate Attorney – An attorney with specialized knowledge and experience with probate matters.

Property – Anything that can be owned is referred to as Property. There is a distinction between Real and Personal Property:

  • Personal Property – generally constitutes all Property that is not real and movable.
  • Real Property – is generally property that is not personal and immovable.

Residue – The remaining portion of a decedent’s estate after the payments of debts and legacies.

Testate – The situation in which a decedent does leave a valid will behind.

Trust– An estate planning document in which the assets of one person (the trust maker) are held by another (the trustee) on behalf of a third person or party (the beneficiary).

Trustee – A person who holds and manages property for the benefit of a beneficiary. The person or organization is authorized as a trustee via a trust.

Will – Also known as a Last Will and Testament, is written legal document that dictates the disposition of the decedent’s assets after death. A will is filed with the Probate Court after a person dies as part of the Probate Process.

When you need experienced help with Texas Probate, please contact the Bolinger Law Firm.