Probate terms can be confusing because you don’t use them in every day conversation. Probate terms are likely additionally confusing because you are exposed to them in a time of great loss and mourning. When a loved one dies, it is a difficult time to be learning anything, let alone legal lingo.
Here are some probate terms. We find it helpful for clients to have information in writing and to be able to refer back to it as needed.
1. Probate is the court process of validating a will. It also refers to the administration or winding down of a decedent’s estate.
2.Executor is the person who is in charge of winding down the decedent’s financial life and settling the estate.
3. Administrator is the person who carries out the executor’s duties if the decedent died without a will. The court appoints the administrator.
4. Per stirpes is a form of distribution to beneficiaries. If a beneficiary is deceased, his children step into his shoes, so to speak, and inherit his share.
5. Bequest is a gift of personal property in a will.
6. Devise is a gift of real estate in a will.
7. Beneficiaries are those people named in a will who are entitled to receive assets.
8. Administration expenses are probate expenses which include legal fees, accounting fees, appraisal fees, asset maintenance fees, disposition fees, and distribution fees.
9. Codicil is an amendment or revision to a will
10. Federal estate tax is a tax on the transfer of wealth. It is based on the value of the decedent’s estate at death.
11. Federal estate tax return is also known as the 706. The federal estate tax return must be filed if the decedent had a federally taxable estate and/or to preserve the right of the surviving spouse to use the decedent’s unused unified credit amount.
If you have questions about these probate terms, consult with a qualified estate planning attorney.