As you go through the process of probating an estate, you might come across some probate terms you are unfamiliar with, especially if you have never gone through the process before. Understanding some of this legal jargon will help to demystify the process and put you a bit more at ease as you do your work.
Below are common legal probate terms.
1. Decedent: The decedent is the person who died and left behind the estate that must be administered.
2. Testacy: Testacy is a term that means someone has left a valid will. Intestacy is condition in which a person died without leaving behind a valid will. Testacy proceedings will be conducted to establish a will and its validity, and to proceed with the probate process.
3. Personal representative: Also referred to as an estate executor, the personal representative is the person named in the will or selected by the probate court to take charge of administering the estate. Their tasks include gathering and inventorying assets, paying off estate debts, taking care of all court fees and filings, paying any applicable estate taxes, and distributing assets to heirs.
4. Fiduciary: A Personal Representative has a fiduciary duty to the estate and its beneficiaries. A fiduciary is a person who has been placed in a position of trust and power, so there is a burden on that person to act with good faith and integrity in administering the estate.
5. Sureties: A surety acts as a sort of insurance that protects the estate against a potential failure on the part of the personal representative to properly complete their duties. It is the personal representatives’ responsibility to purchase a surety bond with estate assets. Bonds can be filed without sureties if the will states there is no bond required, or that sureties can be waived.
6. Devisee: A devisee is any person or entity who receives real property as a result of being named in a decedent’s will. Real property includes land and real estate.
7. Citation: A citation is a notification from the probate court that the Personal Representative receives if a requirement of that court was not met during the probate proceedings. The Citation could instruct the Personal Representative to notify any interested parties about the decedent’s death, the filing of an inventory, or the filing of an account. There could be penalties that apply if the terms of the Citation are not met.
Learn more about the probate process by reading Probate FAQ.
For assistance with probating an estate, talk to a probate administration attorney at BakerLaw Group. We offer an initial complimentary consultation.
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