Probate Definitions:

Beneficiary: A person named in the will to receive an interest in property from a decedent.

Bequest and Devise: Used in a will to grant an interest in property.

Codicil: A written document made by the deceased making changes to an existing will.

Decedent: The one who has died whose estate is subject to administration.

Heir: A person, including a surviving spouse, who under state law is entitled to an interest in property of the decedent.

Interested Person: Includes one or more of the following: 1. an heir of the deceased if named in the will or not; 2. a beneficiary named in the will which may include a beneficiary of a trust and a nominated trustee; 3. the personal representative named in the will.

Intestate: An estate left by a person who dies without a will. Distribution of assets follows the statutes of intestate succession.

Issue: Children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc.

Per Stirpes: Property is divided into equal shares for the decedent’s children; children of a deceased child share their parent’s share. (i.e., by right of representation)

Personal Representative: A person nominated in a will to administer estate affairs in probate proceedings sometimes known as executor (male) or executrix (female).

Probate: A court-supervised process to: 1. transfer assets of a decedent to heirs or beneficiaries; 2. determine and pay federal and state taxes; and 3. give notice to creditors.

Probate Registrar: The administrative officer appointed in each county to supervise informal probate.

Testate: An estate left by a person who dies with a will. Distributions of assets follow the will.

Testamentary Trust: An arrangement outlined in a will in which one party (sometimes a bank) holds and distributes property for the benefits of another.

Will: A document properly executed prior to death that directs distribution of property after death, nominates who will care for and distribute property. It may nominate someone to care for minor children and/or handle assets in a testamentary trust.

Guardianship Definitions:

Agency: any public or private board, corporation or association which is concerned with the specific needs and problems of mentally retarded, developmentally disabled, mentally ill, alcoholic, drug dependent and aging persons.

Developmentally disabled person: Any individual having a disability attributable to mental retardation, cerebral palsy, autism or another neurological condition closely related to mental retardation or requiring treatment similar to that required to mentally retarded individuals, which has continued or can be expected to continue indefinitely, substantially impairs the individual from adequately providing for his or her own care or custody and constitutes a substantial handicap to the afflicted individual. The term does not include a person affected by senility, which is primarily caused by the process of aging or the infirmities of aging.

Guardian: One appointed by a court to have care, custody and control of the person of a minor or an incompetent or the management of the estate of a minor, an incompetent or a spendthrift.

Incompetent: A person adjudged by a court of record to be substantially incapable of managing his or her property or caring for him/herself by reason of infirmities of aging, developmental disabilities or other like incapacities. Physical disability without mental incapacity is not sufficient to establish incompetence.

Infirmities of aging: Organic brain damage caused by advanced age or other physical degeneration in connection therewith to the extent that the person so afflicted is substantially impaired in his or her ability to adequately provide for his or her own care or custody.

Interested persons: Any adult relative or friend of a person to be protected under this subchapter; or any official or representative of a public or private agency, corporation or association concerned with the welfare of the person who is to be protected.

Minor: A person who has not attained the age of 18 years.

Other like incapacities: Those conditions incurred at any age which are the result of accident, organic brain damage, mental or physical disability, continued consumption or absorption of substances, producing a condition which substantially impairs an individual from providing for the individual’s own care or custody.

Spendthrift: A person who because of the use of intoxicants or drugs or of gambling, idleness or debauchery or other wasteful course of conduct is unable to attend to business of thereby is likely to affect the health, life or property of the person or others so as to endanger the support of the person and the person’s dependents or expose the public to such support.

Ward: A subject for whom a guardian has been appointed.