Probate Glossary

Probate Glossary

Here are brief definitions of terms you may encounter if you are dealing with probate or trust real estate or inheritance property:

Beneficiary: A person who inherits when there is a will.

Conservator: A person who has the court-appointed fiduciary responsibility for the care of another adult.

Conservatee: The person whose care is provided for under a conservatorship.

Conservatorship: A court proceeding wherein a judge appoints a responsible person (conservator) to care for another person (conservatee) who cannot care for him/her self or his/her finances.

Custodian of the Will: The person in possession of the will when the person who wrote the will dies.

Decedent: The person who died.

Executor: A person named in a will and appointed by the Court to carry out the decedent’s wishes. This person is usually named as the seller of the real property.

Heir: A person who inherits. 

Intestate: When someone dies without leaving a will. When there is no will, the sale of the decedent’s real property often requires court confirmation.

Intestate succession: The order of who inherits the property when the decedent does not have a will.

Legatees, or Devisees: People who are named in a will.

Personal Representative (Administrator or Executor): The person responsible for overseeing the distribution of the estate.

Probate: The process of deciding where, how and to whom to distribute the decedent’s estate, such as the real property.

Probate real estate sale: The transfer of legal title (ownership) of real property from the estate of the person who has died to his or her beneficiaries or to a buyer under the supervision of the Court.

Probate referee: Before real property can be sold through probate, it must be appraised. This is done by a probate referee. In California, probate referees are appointed by the State Controller and assigned to a particular case by the court clerk. They are paid for this service directly by the estate, usually a percentage of the appraised value.

Real Property: The term used to refer to real estate (land and buildings) in probate and trust sales.

Testate: When someone dies leaving a will.

Trust: When a person (trustee) holds property at another person’s (Settlor’s) requests for the benefit of someone else (Beneficiary).

Will: A legal document that lists a person’s wishes about what will happen to his/her personal and real property after death.

Our team is always happy to answer your questions about language, procedures, disclosures and any other aspect of probate and trust real estate. Call us at 510-377-8853 today.