Glossary of Terms

Administrator (also known as Personal Representative): Person or institution appointed by the court to manage and distribute the estate of a person who dies without a will.

Beneficiary: Person named to receive property or benefits.

Codicil: An addition or supplement made to change or add provisions to a will.

Contingent beneficiary: Receiver or property or benefits if first-named beneficiary dies before receiving all benefits.

Contract: Legally enforceable agreement.

Decedent: A deceased person.

Devise: To give real or personal property.

Estate: Everything a person owns.

Executor, Executrix (also known as a Personal Representative): A person or institution named in the will to carry out the provisions and directions of the will.

Heirs: Those persons who are legally entitled to receive a decedent’s property.

Intestate: A person who dies without making a valid will.

Issue: Children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, etc… (lineal descendants)

Legatee: Person who receives personal property under a will.

Levy: To collect by assessment.

Lien: A charge upon property, real or personal, for the satisfaction of a debt.

Personal property: Intangible property, such as stocks, bonds, or bank accounts; and tangible property such as furniture, automobile, jewelry.

Probate: Official proof of the genuineness of a will.

Real Property: Land and buildings.

Surrogate: A judicial officer who has jurisdiction over the probate of wills.

Tenants in common: Two or more persons owning individual interests in property.

Testator: The person who makes a will.

Trust: Property owned and managed by one person for the benefit of another.

Trustee: Person or institution holding property in trust.

Waiver: A legal instrument relinquishing a right or lien.

Will: A legal declaration of the manner in which a person wishes his estate divided after death.

Witness: Person who observed the signing of a will and also attests to the signatures.