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Probate Glossary

Here are brief definitions of terms you may encounter if you are dealing with probate or trust real estate or inheritance property:

Beneficiary: A person who inherits when there is a Will.

Conservator: A person who has the court-appointed fiduciary responsibility for the care of another adult.

Conservatee: The person whose care is provided for under a conservatorship.

Conservatorship: A court proceeding wherein a judge appoints a responsible person (Conservator) to care for another person (Conservatee) who cannot care for him/her self or his/her finances.

Custodian of the Will: The person in possession of the Will when the person who wrote the Will dies.

Decedent: The person who died.

Executor: A person named in a Will and appointed by the Court to carry out the decedent’s wishes. This person is usually named as the seller of the real property.

Heir: A person who inherits.

Intestate: When someone dies without leaving a Will. When there is no Will, the sale of the decedent’s real property often requires court confirmation.

Intestate Succession: The order of who inherits the property when the decedent does not have a Will.

Legatees, or Devisees: People who are named in a Will.
Personal Representative (Administrator or Executor): The person responsible for overseeing the distribution of the estate.

Probate: The process of deciding where, how and to whom to distribute the decedent’s estate, such as the real property.

Probate Real Estate Sale: The transfer of legal title (ownership) of real property from the estate of the person who has died to his or her beneficiaries or to a buyer under the supervision of the Court.

Probate Referee: Before real property can be sold through probate, it must be appraised. This is done by a Probate Referee. In California, probate referees are appointed by the State Controller and assigned to a particular case by the court clerk. They are paid for this service directly by the estate, usually a percentage of the appraised value.
Real Property: The term used to refer to real estate (land and buildings) in probate and trust sales.

Testate: When someone dies leaving a Will.

Trust: When a person (Trustee) holds property at another person’s (Settlor’s) requests for the benefit of someone else (Beneficiary).

Will: A legal document that lists a person’s wishes about what will happen to his/her personal and real property after death.

Our Team is always happy to answer your questions about language, procedures, disclosures and any other aspect of Probate.