Probate Real Estate Glossary

Beneficiary:  A person who inherits the property when there is a Will.

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

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 the 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 referee’s 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.



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