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Probate Terminology

Posted by attorney Diane Wies

Some helpful terminology:

· Decedent: A person who dies is known as a Decedent.

· Will: A Last Will and Testament is a Decedent’s plan for distributing his/her Estate.

· Heir: A person who inherits a Decedent’s property if the Decedent dies without a Will is an Heir.

· Beneficiary: Someone who receives the Decedent’s property pursuant to a document executed by a Decedent is known as a Beneficiary.

· Testate: Testate refers to the Estate of a Decedent who dies with a Will.

· Intestate: Intestate refers to the Estate of a Decedent who dies without a Will.

· Estate: An Estate consists of all probate assets owned by the Decedent.

· Solvent: An Estate is Solvent if it contains more assets than liabilities.

· Nonprobate Assets: Assets that (1) have a designated Beneficiary; (2) are held jointly with another person (“joint with right of survivorship" or “joint tenants"); or (3) are “payable on death" (“POD" designation) to another person.

· Probate Assets: Assets passing through the probate process, including all assets solely in the Decedent’s name.

· Taxable Estate: The estate of a decedent dying with at least $2 million in probate and/or nonprobate assets.

This information was prepared as a public service by Mullavey, Prout, Grenley & Foe LLP. It contains general information and is not intended to apply to any specific situation. The information is very broadly and simply stated. There are a number of exceptions and specific rules that apply to your particular situation and lead to a different result. If you need legal advice or have questions, you should consult a lawyer.

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