The legally enforceable written declaration of a person's intended distribution of property after death.
execution of a valid will
The acts of the testator who writes and signs the will and the two or more witnesses who attest and sign it to establish the will's validity.
A will drawn and signed entirely in the maker's own handwriting that often requires no witnesses. State laws establish the conditions for this type of will to be valid.
A person to whom the decendent's property is given or distributed; or the orthodox term for a person or institution, to whom the maker of a will gives personal property through the will.
To perform or complete, e.g., to write and sign a will
To bear witness; to affirm or verify a will as genuine.
To sign a will.
Two or more persons who attest and subscribe (sign) the will.
The whole of the property, real and personal, owned by any person. Also called the gross estate.
Anything subject to ownership.
Realty or real estate. Land and generally whatever is build or growing on or affixed (permanantly attached) to the land. It includes land, buildings, and fixtures.
Also referred to as "chattels personal" or moveable property. Everthing subject to ownership that is not real estate; includes such items as clothing, household furnishings, stocks, money, contract rights, life insurance, and similar holdings.
The procedure by which a document is presented to the court to confirm it as a valid will. The process by which a proper court declares the will to be a valid testamentary disposition, or the system provided by law for transferring property of a decedent to successors.
The court that has jurisdiction over the probate of wills, the grant of administration, and supervision of the management and settlement of the estates of decedents, including the collection of assets, the allowance of claims, and the distribution of the estate. In some states, probate courts (also called surrogate courts, orphans' courts, or the courts of chancery) have jurisdiction over the estates of minors, including the appointment of guardians and the settlement of their accounts, and the estates of incompetents, habitual drunkards, and spendthrifts.
A person who administers the decedent's estate and either carries out the terms of the will or follows the appropriate interstate succession statute in distributing the estate. If the personal representative has been named in the will to carry out such liaison duties, he is called an executor (a womanis an executrix); if the court appoints the personal representative because no valid will exists, he is an adminisrator (administratrix, ith the case of a woman).
A man named in the will by the maker to be the personal representative of the decddent's estate and to carry out the provisions of the will. Also can be a corporation, e.g., a bank.
A male personal representative appointed by the probate court to administer the decedent's estate when there is no will. Also can be a corporation, e.g., a bank.
The receipt of a devise (a gift of real property through a will. In UPC terminology, "devise" refers to gifts of both real and personal property.
The person who receives a gift of personal property under a will.
Traditionally, a person, including a spouse, who is entitled by statute to the real property of an interstate. Today, a person entitled to any gift (real and personal property) of the interstate or in the decedents's will.
A person who is entitled to share in the distribution of an estate of a decedent who dies interstate, or as defined by the UPC, any person who has received property of a decedent from personal representative other than a creditor or purchaser.
next of kin
The nearest blood relatives of the decedent, or those who would inherit from a decedent who died interstate, whether or not they are blood relatives, e.g., a spouse.
Uniform Probate Code (UPC)
A uniform law available for adoption by the states to modernize and improve the efficiency of estate administration. To help alleviate the confusion of having 50 states with different procedures for handling decedents' estates, the National COnference of Commissioners on Uniform State, Laws and the American Law Institute prepared model uniform statutes and recommended their adoption by the states. The Uniform Probate Code is one such model. These codes are not the law of a particular state until that state adopts them.
The legal home where a persona has a true, fixed, and permanent place of dwelling and to which the perosn intends to return when absent. A temporary residence, such as a summer home, is not a domicile. A person may have only one domicile but could have more than one residence. Domicile and residence are frequently used interchangealby, but they are distinguished in that domicile is the legal home, the fixed permanent place of habitation, while residence is a transient place of dweilling. Domicile, not residence, determines venue.
Revocable and subject to change.
A written ammendment to a will that may modify or revoke provisions in the will but does not cancel (invalidate) the will. A codicil must be exectuted with the same formalities as a will.
As an adjective, meaning "without a will"; as a noun, meaning a person who dies without a valid will.
As an adjective, having made a valid will; as a nound, one, either a man or a woman, who makes and/or dies with a valid will.
Also called forced share. Forced heirship or elective share. The spouse's statutory right to choose a share of the decedent spouse's estate instead of inheriting under the provisions of the decedent's will.
A minor or incompetent person placed under the care and supervision of a guardian by the probate court.
A person under legal disability, e.g., a mentally incapacitated person.
The person or institution named by the maker of a will or appointed by the ocurt when there is no will to care for the person and/or property of a minor or hadicapped or incompetent person.
Ownership of real or personal property by two or more persons with the right of survivorship.
tenancy in common
The ownership of an individed interest of real or personal property by two or more persons without the right of survivorship. Each person has the right to hold or occupy the whole property in common with the other co-tenants, and each is entitled to share in the profits derived from the property. Unlike joint tnenancy, when a tenant in common dies, the decedent's interest goes to an heir or as directed in a will.
A freehold estate in which a perosn, called life tenant, holds an interest in real property during his own or someone else's lifetime.
A fiduciary; an individual or trust institution appointed by a court to care for and manage property of an incompetent person.
The dwelling in which one temporarily lives or resides. "residence" is not always synonomous with "domicile," although the terms are frequently interchanged. "Residence" may imply a temporary dwelling, whereas "domicile" always denotes a permanent dwelling.
A man who makes and/or dies with a valid will.
guardian ad litem
A person appointed by the court to defend or bring a lawsuit on behalf of a minor or an incompetent person.
A certificate whereby a surety company promises to pay money if the personal representative of a deceased fails to faithfully perform the duties of administering the decedent's estate.
An individual or insurance company that, at the request of a personal representative, agrees to pay money up to the amount of a bond in the event that the personal representative fails to faithfully performs his duties.
Laws passed by the state or federal legislature. Statutory law is one source of law, i.e., state statutes, federal statutes. State and federal governments publish books of law that are called statutes.
Age at which a perosn acquires capacity to make a valid will, usually 18.
The sanity (sound mind) requirement for a perosn to make a vialid will. That measure of mental ability that is recogvized in law as suffiecient for the making of a will.
The particular place, county or city, where a court having jurisdiciton may hear and decide a case.
The authority by which a particular court is empowered by statute to decied a certain kind of case and to have its decision enforced.
A person authorized by the state whose function is to administer oaths, certify documents and deeds, and attest to the authenticity of signatures.
A statutory procedure that provides for proving of a will without testimony of witnesses by an acknowledgement of the testator and with an affidavit of witnesses made before a notary public and added to the end of the will.
By representationi. When heirs entitled to a portion of an intestate decedent's estate and related to the deceased in different degrees of relationship (intergenerational ascendants or decendants) with some heirs having predeceased the interstate, the descendants of such perons recieve their shares through the predeceased heirs. Also, a distribution of property that depends on the relationship to the interstate of those entitled to the estate.
"Individually." When all heirs entitled to a portion of an interstate decedent's estate are related to the deceased in the same degree of relationship (same-generation ascendants or descendants), each receives an identical portion, all sharing equally. Also, a distribution of property based on giving equal shares to all those entitled to the interstate's estate.
A document, separate from a will, that expresses a person's wish to be allowed to die a natual death and not be kept alive by artificial means. Also called advance helath care directive.
An application to the proper court (probate court) from the person (called the petitioner) seeking to validate a will or to administer an intestate's estate asking the court to grant the request sought in the application.
A sworn written statement of facts affirmed before a notary public.
Written and posted in public places or by notice in newspapers to creditors of an estate to present their claims for what the executor or administrator owes them from the estate assets. It is also notice to debtors to pay what they owe the estate.
A person who is appointed to serve in a position of trust and confidence and who controls and manages property exclusively for the benefit of others. An example would be a trustee action for the benefit of a trust beneficiary. Other exapmles whould be a guardian action for a minor, apartner acting for fellow partners, and a personal representative acting for beneficiaries of an estate.
Combining community and separate property, e.g., into the same account or by using both to acquire a different item of property. Also when a fiduciary (trustee) combines the money from the sale of trust property with his own funds instead of placing the money in the trust account.