Definitions of Common Probate Terms
Probate and estate planning sometimes include words with complex or multiple definitions. Oftentimes, these words have different meanings inside a courtroom than their everyday usage. Here are some common phrases you will come across in probate and estate planning.
- Administration: the process of transferring property from an estate to beneficiaries
- Administrator: one who carries out an administration
- Affiant: one who makes a statement under oath
- Affidavit: a written statement made under oath
- Age of Majority: when someone is older than eighteen years of age.
- Agent: a person authorized to act on behalf of someone else
- Ancillary Administration: an administration in a state other than where the deceased lived
- Beneficiary: someone entitled to property whether it be through a retirement account, the will, or a trust.
- Bequest: property left in the will
- Codicil: an amendment to a will
- Decedent: a person who has died
- Devisees: someone named in the will receiving (real) property
- Disinherit: to not include someone in the will that would otherwise receive a portion of the estate.
- Distribution: a gift that is given through probate or made by a trust to a trustee
- Estate: a person’s possessions
- Executor: person named in the will to carry out
- Fiduciary: person who manages property with a legal responsibility
- Guardian: a person the court appoints to represent and care for another
- Heir: someone who has a the right to inherit property after the death of another due to the family relationship
- Holographic will: a handwritten will
- Insolvent Estate: an estate that has more debt than assets
- Intestate: the state of affairs when someone dies without having a valid will
- Issue: the bloodlines of someone that can determine the next of kin and heirs.
- Joint and Survivorship Property: property that immediately transfers to someone else after the death of another.
- Judge: the individual presiding and making decisions in probate court.
- Legatees: someone named in a will receiving (personal) property
- Letters of Authority: court documents that authorize individuals to act on behalf of an estate.
- Living trust: a trust created and placed into effect while the person is still alive.
- Local Rules: rules that a county probate court creates to provide efficiency and clarity.
- Magistrate: a lawyer hired by judge in order to delegate authority and proceedings.
- Next of kin: the closest living relatives of the deceased.
- Ohio Revised Code: the laws of Ohio enacted by the General Assembly.
- Ohio Rules of Superintendence: the rules of governance for government agencies and roles in Ohio.
- Per stirpes: when assets are divided in a way where grandchildren step into the shoes of a deceased child.
- Power of Attorney: a legal document that gives someone the ability to act for another person.
- Probate Court: the court that deals with administering estates
- Probate Estate: the property of a person that requires probate to change legal title to someone else.
- Residue: the portion of the probate estate left over after expenses and specific gifts are made to others
- Special Needs Trust: a trust created in order to protect trust assets and governmental benefits for those with special needs.
- Specific bequest: a gift of a specific item named in the will.
- Spendthrift Provision: a section of a trust document aimed to protect a beneficiary from creditors
- Testamentary trust: a trust that is established before death funded by the residue of an estate
- Testator: someone that makes a will.
- Trust: an instrument created to hold legal title in property for the use of someone else.
- Trustee: one who manages a trust and its assets for beneficiaries.
- Uniform Transfer to Minors Act Account: an account that holds property gifted to minors until they reach the age of majority.
- Ward: someone who has a guardian
- Will: a written document witnessed by two people that states who get what portion of a probate estate.