What is Probate?

If you’ve asked this question, you’re not alone.  There are a number of terms thrown around during the probate process that many people don’t recognize. That’s why we’ve provided a list of probate vocabulary that you’ll want to become familiar with if you’re dealing with an estate in the Indianapolis area.

NOTE: These terms are commonly used in the Indianapolis Indiana area.  This glossary provides very basic definitions, and should not be considered legal advice.  

 

ADMINISTRATOR

A person appointed by the court to administer the estate of a person who died without a will (intestate)

ASSETS

All property other than income that is part of an estate.

BENEFICIARY

An individual or organization to which a gift of property is made through a legal instrument such as a will, trust, or life insurance policy.

BEQUEST

The legal term used to describe personal property left to someone in a will.

CONSERVATEE

A person determined by the court to be unable to protect and manage their own personal care or financial affairs, or both, for whom the court has appointed a conservator.

CONSERVATORSHIP

A court proceeding to appoint a manager for the financial affairs or the personal care of a conservatee.

CONTESTANT

A person who contests the eligibility of a will to be admitted to probate.

CONTESTED

To challenge a position asserted in a judicial proceeding, like contesting the probate of a will.

DECEDENT

The person who has died.

DEED

A written legal document that describes a piece of property, outlines its boundaries, and denotes ownership.

DEPENDENT

A person who is financially supported by another person, usually a child supported by a parent.

DISBURSEMENTS

Paying out money.

DISCHARGE

The court order releasing the administrator or executor from any further duties regarding the estate being subjected to probate proceedings.

DISTRIBUTEE

Someone who receives property from an estate.

ESCROW

Money or documents, such as a deed or title, held by a third party until the conditions of an agreement are met.

ESTATE

A person’s total possessions (assets), including money, jewelry, securities, land, etc.

EXECUTOR

The person named in a will to carry out the directions as set forth in the will (also the personal representative of the estate).

FIDUCIARY

A person or organization that manages property for a person, with a legal responsibility involving a high standard of care.

FIDUCIARY DUTY

A legal obligation to act in the best interest of another party.

HEIR

The person who would naturally inherit property through a will, or from another who died without leaving a will.

IRREVOCABLE LIVING TRUST

A trust created during the maker’s lifetime that does not allow the maker or anyone else to change it (a revocable living trust can be changed).

LIVING TRUST

A trust set up while a person is alive and which remains under the control of that person during the remainder of her life.

LIVING WILL

Also known as a medical directive or advance directive. A written document that states a person’s wishes regarding life-support or other    medical treatment in certain circumstances, usually when death is imminent.

MARITAL DEDUCTION

A deduction allowing for the unlimited transfer of any or all property from one spouse to the other generally free of estate and gift tax.

PERSONAL EFFECTS

Belongings of a personal nature, such as clothes and jewelry.

PERSONAL PROPERTY

All items, both tangible and intangible, that are not real property. Anything owned by a person that can be moved such as money, securities, jewelry, etc.

PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE

The person who is authorized to act on behalf of the decedent’s estate. This person almost always an administrator or executor appointed by the court to administer a decedent’s estate.

PROBATE

The legal process of administering a will. An estate may be probated even if there is no will.

PROBATE ESTATE

All the assets owned at death that require some form of legal proceeding before title may be transferred to the proper heirs. Property that passes automatically at death (property in trust, life insurance proceeds, property in a “pay-on-death” account or property held in joint tenancy) is not in the probate estate.

PUBLIC ADMINISTRATOR

A publicly appointed person who handles the administration of an estate when no other person has been appointed as executor or administrator.

TESTATE

A person who has made a will or who has died leaving a valid will; opposite of intestate.

TESTATOR

The person who makes a will.

TRUST

A written legal instrument created by a grantor during his or her lifetime or at death for the benefit of another. Property is given to a trustee to manage for the benefit of a third person.

WILL

A legal document directing the disposal of the testator’s property after their death. A will is revocable during the maker’s lifetime.

WILL CONTEST

Any kind of litigated controversy concerning the eligibility of an instrument to probate as distinguished from validity of the contents of the will.

For additional assistance, Call the Indiana Probate and Estate Helpline at 317-344-8908

Contact Information for the author- Mark McGarvey:

Indy Inherited Team at Keller Williams

mark@indyinherited.com

www.IndyInherited.com

317-536-2575

Heirs, personal reps, executors… don’t forget to download the Probate Organizer.