Terms And Definitions Relevant To Your Will


The administrator is that person appointed by the probate court and qualified to administer an estate of someone who has died without a will.


The beneficiaries of a will are those designated to take an interest in real or personal property. The beneficiary may be a person or a trust.


A codicil is an amendment or a republication of a will. If you change your mind regarding a specific gift or selection of executor, for example, you may write a codicil to your will rather than writing the entire will again. A codicil requires the same execution formalities as your will.


The lineal descendants of an individual include those who are born or adopted by the decedent.


Your estate is all that property, personal and real, in which you have an interest. It includes everything you own, from tangible property such as jewelry, cars, land, and buildings to intangible holdings such as stocks, bonds, and insurance proceeds.


The executor of a will is the person nominated in a will who has qualified to administer a testate estate. The executor disposes of the property according to the provisions in the will and the directions and requests made by the testator.


A guardian represents someone to a probate court proceeding. Usually, a guardian is appointed to represent minors or incompetents. In a will, a guardian may be selected to care for minor children.


Heirs are those individuals who survive the decedent and are determined under the rules of inheritance to take the property of the decedent if the decedent died without a will. (If a will was in place, those receiving property are called beneficiaries.) Each state has different rules of inheritance determining who shall receive property from the decedent's estate. See If you Die Without A Will, (click here).


When a will is probated, it is proven to a court with jurisdiction, that the will presented is valid. Each state has certain procedures to probate a will. The executor appointed in a will (or the administrator if there was no will) is responsible for probating the will.


The testator is one who makes a will, and dies with a will.


There are many forms of trusts. Generally, a trust is a right of property, real or personal, held by one party for the benefit of another.


That person appointed to execute a trust. The trustee is selected to manage the trust property for the benefit of another.


This is the legal declaration of an individual's testamentary intention regarding property or other matters. The will includes all codicils.

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