Administrator -

A person or institution appointed by a court to act on behalf of a deceased person in connection with the administration of a decedent's estate.

Administrator with Will Annexed -

An administrator appointed by a court to act on behalf of the deceased person who left a will, but where no nominated executor is willing and able to act

Beneficiary -

The individual or corporation who receives the benefit of a transaction (e.g., beneficiary of a life insurance policy, beneficiary of a trust, or beneficiary under a will)

Community Property -

Real or personal property that is owned in common by husband and wife as a kind of marital partnership.  Either spouse has management and control of the community real and personal property; however, both spouses must join in transfer of ownership or lease for more than one year of community real property or a gift of community property.

All property acquired during marriage from earnings, and the earnings themselves are community property.  Property acquired by gift or inheritance is separate property, not community property.

Conservator -

The individual or corporation who legally has charge of the care and management of the person, property, or both of an adult who is unable to provide for his own personal needs or who is substantially unable to manage his financial affairs.

Limited conservatorship may be established for developmentally disabled adults.

Contingent Beneficiary -

One to whom distribution is dependent upon the occurrence of an event.

Disclaimer -

A refusal to accept, for example, a testamentary gift that is made in a prescribed manner and time  

Estate Taxes - Federal -

The death taxes imposed the federal government on the transfer of assets upon death.

Executor -

The individual or corporation appointed in a will by a testator to take care of the testator's property after his death. Also called a personal representative

Ex Parte -

A judicial proceeding granted without notice

Fiduciary -

A person charged with a high degree of care who acts on behalf of another. Executors and trustees are fiduciaries.

Guardian -

The individual or corporation who legally has charge of the care and management of the person, property, or both, of a child during his minority.

Heir -

The person who inherits property under state law

Inheritance Taxes -

The taxes imposed, according to the relationship to the decedent, on the person who receives the property.


Intestate -

Refers to someone who dies leaving no will.

Irrevocable Trust -

A trust whose terms and provisions cannot be changed, modified, altered, amended or revoked.

Joint Tenancy -

A form of property ownership by two or more persons, often designated as “joint tenants with right of survivorship.”  Joint tenants always own equal parts of joint tenancy property. When a joint tenant dies, his or her interest in the property automatically goes to the surviving joint tenant.

Life Estate -

An interest in property, the term of which is measured by the life of it's owner

Personal Representative -

This term described an executor or Administrator

Probate Administration -

The legal process whereby a probate court supervises the marshalling of a deceased person's debts and taxes and orders the property distributed according to decedent's will, or in its absence, to the deceased person’s heirs. The probate court has jurisdiction over the personal representative and the decedent's assets.

Real Property -

An interest in land or property permanently affixed to land

Revocable Trust -

A trust whose terms and provisions can be changed, modified, altered, amended, or revoked.


Tenancy In Common -

A form of holding title to real or personal property by two or more persons. Because there is no right of survivorship, the legal relationships and results are very different from joint tenancy.

Tenants in common need not hold equal interest, and on the death of a tenant in common, his interest will pass by his will or according to the laws of intestate succession.

Testamentary Trust -

The trust that comes into being only as a result of the death of a person whose will provides for creation of the trust after his death, hence, the term “testamentary”. Once in existence, this trust is irrevocable.  

Testate -

Refers to someone who dies leaving a will.  

Trust -

A legal entity established either during a trustor’s lifetime (inter vivos) or at his death (testamentary). The trust is governed by the terms set forth in the trust documents. A trust must have a trustee, a beneficiary, and a “corpus” or property subjected to the trust.   


The individual or corporation who in a trust has bare legal title to the assets and has the power given in the trust to carry out the wishes of the person or persons (trustor or trustor’s) who created the trust. The trustee has a fiduciary obligation to the trust’s beneficiaries enforceable in court if not carried out.  The trustee is subject to strict regulation. Although he has legal title for convenience, the beneficial or equitable title is in fact owned by the beneficiaries. When there is more than one trustee, the trustees are called co-trustees.  

Trustor -

The person or  persons who establish a trust. There can be more than one trustor.


A document, prepared and executed by a person with the formality required by the laws of the state of his domicile at the time, which is intended to govern and direct the disposition of his estate and settlement of his legal affairs at the time of his death and which has no legal effect until death. If the document is entirely in the person's own handwriting, it is called a “holographic will”. If a will is typed, it is called a “witnessed will” because the signing of it generally requires two or more witnesses to testify later, if necessary, that the execution was not procured by fraud, duress, or misrepresentation