Glossary of Estate Law Terms


  • This is everything that a person owns, including their money, personal property, and real property (i.e. real estate).


  • A will is a legal document that gives instructions about how your estate is to be handled after your death.


  • Pronounced TES-TAY-TOR (weird right?). That’s the person who is making the will. After the testator dies, he is referred to as the “Decedent”.


  • This is the person that is designated to help carry out the terms of the will (e.g. collect and distribute property, pay taxes, etc). He/she is usually a trusted friend or family member of the testator, and is nominated by the testator and must be approved by the court.


  • This is the person (or organization) who you’re leaving stuff to in your will. For example, Sam is leaving her ruby necklace to Debbie in her will. Debbie is a beneficiary under Sam’s will.


  • This is the person (or people) that you nominate to care for your minor children if you should pass away.


  • Probate is the judicial process through which a person’s estate is calculated and distributed after their death.

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