Terminology

  • Administrator – person appointed or who petitions to administer an estate in an intestate succession. The antiquated English term of administratrix was used to refer to a female but is generally no longer in standard legal usage.
  • Beneficiary – anyone receiving a gift or benefitting from a trust
  • Bequest – testamentary gift of personal property, traditionally other than money.
  • codicil – (1) amendment to a will; (2) a will that modifies or partially revokes an existing or earlier will.
  • Decedent – the deceased (U.S. term)
  • Demonstrative Legacy – a gift of a specific sum of money with a direction that is to be paid out of a particular fund.
  • Descent – succession to real property.
  • Devise – testamentary gift of real property.
  • Devisee – beneficiary of real property under a will.
  • Distribution – succession to personal property.
  • Executor/executrix or personal representative [PR] – person named to administer the estate, generally subject to the supervision of the probate court, in accordance with the testator’s wishes in the will. In most cases, the testator will nominate an executor/PR in the will unless that person is unable or unwilling to serve.
  • Inheritor – a beneficiary in a succession, testate or intestate.
  • Intestate – person who has not created a will, or who does not have a valid will at the time of death.
  • Legacy – testamentary gift of personal property, traditionally of money. Note: historically, a legacy has referred to either a gift of real property or personal property.
  • Legatee – beneficiary of personal property under a will, i.e., a person receiving a legacy.
  • Probate – legal process of settling the estate of a deceased person.
  • Specific legacy (or specific bequest) – a testamentary gift of a precisely identifiable object.
  • Testate – person who dies having created a will before death.
  • Testator – person who executes or signs a will; that is, the person whose will it is. The antiquated English term of Testatrix was used to refer to a female and is still in use in the US

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