• Administrator - A person or institution appointed by a court to act on behalf of the deceased person in connection with the administration of a decedent’s estate.
  • Administrator with Will Annexed (for Administrator CTA) - 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.)
  • Codicil - An addition to a will, the codicil may modify, add to, subtract from, qualify, alter, or revoke provisions in the will. The codicil is a separate document. It is signed with the same formalities as a will. The codicil can be changed, revoked, cancelled, or destroyed at any time.
  • 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 a transfer of ownership or lease for more than one year of community real property or a gift of community personal 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 conservatorships may be established for developmentally disabled adults.
  • Devisees and Legatees - Persons named by a decedent in his will. A bequest or devise generally refers to real property and a legacy of money or personal property.
  • Domicile - The specific location of a person’s permanent residence that determines, for many purposes, the laws that will govern his affairs. A person may have many residences, but he can have only one domicile. The domiciliary proceeding is that created in the jurisdiction of the decedent’s domicile.
  • Escheat - The term which describes the reversion of property to the state in the event a person dies leaving no valid will and no heirs at law surviving him.
  • 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.
  • Personal Representative - This term describes an executor or administrator.
  • Pretermitted Heir - One who would normally be beneficiary of the decedent but who is not mentioned in the will.
  • 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.
  • Right of Representation - A method of distribution, sometimes referred to as “per stirpes,” whereby the share of distribution of a deceased beneficiary is divided equally among his children.
  • Testate - Refers to someone who dies leaving a will.
  • Will - 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 his 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.

Helpful Probate Glossary Terms

I have been able to help many families with the sale of Real Property that is in the Probate process.  Even if there is no property to sell, I hope you will find some helpful information on this page.

Please let me know if I can be of any assistance to you and your family at this difficult time.

Becoming the Personal Representative or Executor of an estate can be overwhelming.  Often the Executor is a family member or close friend dealing with not only the loss of a loved one, but the daunting task of overseeing the deceased person's probate issues.


Many decisions must be made and it is an unsettling and stressful time.  My mission is to  help alleviate as much stress as possible.  If there are Real Estate holdings that need to be sold, I can assist with:

  • Cash Investors
  • Probate Cash Advances
  • Estate Sales for Personal Property
  • Cleaning and Trash-Out Companies
  • Inspection Services
  • Contractors and Locksmiths
  • Appraisal Services
  • Financial Planning

Gayle Sfreddo - Berkshire Hathaway Home Services PenFed realty