Glossary of Terms
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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.