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The legally enforceable writtendeclaration 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 tow or more witnesses who attest and sign it to establish the will's validity

holographic will

A completely hadwritten, signed, and usually dated will that often requires no witnesses.


A person who is entitled to receive property under a will or to a whom the decendent's property is given or distributed.


To perform or complete


To bear witness; to affirm or verify as genuine


To sign one's name generally at the end of a will.


Two or more persons who attest and subscribe (sign) the will.


The property accumulated during a person's life-time and owned at the time of death


Anything subject to ownership

real property

Land, buildings, and things permanently attached to them.

personal property

Any property that is not real property.


Court procedure by which a will is proved to be valid or invalid. Estate administration.

probate court

The court that has jurisdiction over the handling or administration of a decedent and the distribution of the property; also called Chancery, Surrogate's or Orphans' Court

personal representative

The person who is appointed by the probate court to manage the estate of the decedent and either distribute the estate assets according to a will or a state's intestate succession status when there is no will.


The man or woman named in the will to carry out its provisions, i.e., adminster the decedent's estate


The man or woman appointed by the probate court to administer the decedent's estate when there is no will.


A person who receives a gift of real property under a will.


A person who receives a gift of personal property under a will.


A person, including a spouse, who is entitled by statute to the property of an intestate.or in a decedent'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 the administration of a decedent's estate.


The location (state) of a person's true and legal home.


Subject to change and revocation at anytime before death.


A written ammendment to the will that changes but does not invalidate it.


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.

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.

incompetent person

A person under legal disabilities, 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 a handicapped or incompetent person.

joint tenancy

Ownership of real or personal property by two or more persons with the right of survivorship.

tenancy in common

The ownership of an undividied interest of real or personal property by two or more persons without the right of survivorship, which allows each owner's interest to be passed to his or her beneficiaries or heirs upon death.

life estate

is a freehold estate limited in duration to the life of the owner or the life of some other designated person or persons


A fidiciary; an individual or trust instituion appointed by a court to care for and manage property of an incompetent person.


The dwelling in which one temporarily lives.


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 state and federal legislatures.

legal capacity

Age at which a person acquires capacity to make a valid will, usually 18.


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.

notary public

A person authorized by the state whose function is to administer oaths, certify documents and deeds, and attest to the authenticity of signatures.

self-proved will

A statutory procedure that provides for proving of a will without testimony of winesses by an acknowlegement of the testator and with an affidavit of winesses made before a notary public and added to the end of the will.

per stirpes


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