Register of Wills Terminology

Probate: Procedure by which a document alleged to be a will is established judicially as a valid testamentary disposition.

Will: A legal declaration of how a person wishes his or her possessions to be disposed of after death.

Intestate: Decedent dies without a will.

Testate: Decedent dies with a will.

Estate: The whole of property, real or personal, owned by any person.

Non-probate asset: This type of property will pass by operation of law such as Life Insurance proceeds and joint accounts.

Fiduciary:  Owes highest duty of care to be loyal to estate.

Beneficiary: The recipient of funds, property or other benefits from an insurance policy, trust or will.

Decedent: The deceased person.

Testator: The maker of a will when a man. Testatrix: The maker of a will when a female.

Executor: A man named in the decedent’s will to serve as personal representative and carry out the provisions of the will.

Executrix: A female named in the decedent’s will to serve as personal representative and carry out the provisions of the will.

Bequest: A gift of personal property, other than money, through a will.

Legacy: A gift of money through a will.

Devise: A gift of real property through a will.

Codicil: A supplement or addition to a will that may modify or revoke provisions in the will but does not cancel the will.

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