A MINI-GLOSSARY OF PROBATE TERMS

July 27, 2011 § Leave a comment

Administration. Supervision of an intestate estate under the auspices of a court exercising jurisdiction.

Administrator. (f: Administratrix) One appointed by the court to take responsibility for an administration. Also used with certain modifying terms to designate a person appointed to replace an executor named in a will.

Administrator with the Will Annexed. (Administrator cum testamento annexo, or CTA) When the will names no executor, or where the nominated executor is unable or unwilling to serve, the court will appoint an administrator CTA (literally with the will in hand) to do the job.

Administrator de Bonis Non. (Administrator DBN) The original term was “Administrator de bonis non administratis,” which literally means administrator of the goods not [already] administered. The administrator DBN is appointed to administer the effects of a decedent that were not administered or omitted in a previous administration.

Administrator DBN CTA. An administrator appointed to replace an executor who had died or must otherwise be replaced before completing administration of the estate.

Administrator de Son Tort. One who, without any authority in a will or court order, assumes to act as executor or administrator of an estate, disposing of its goods and meddling in its affairs. Literally “Administrator in his own wrong.”

Beneficiary. One named in a will to receive a bequest, legacy or devise, or in a trust to receive the trust proceeds. Note that not all heirs are beneficiaries.

Bequest. Disposition of personal property by will.

Codicil. Written supplement to or addition to a will.

Decedent. The person whose death has occasioned the opening of an estate.

Devastavit. Literally “he or she has wasted.” An action against an executor or administrator charging him or her with mismanagement or neglect of duty that has caused loss and which obligates the fiduciary to the heirs, creditors or beneficiaries.

Devisavit vel non. The ancient name given to a proceeding in chancery court to determine whether or not the testator did devise, and whether the document presented was his will. Literally “Did he devise or not?”

Devise. Disposition of real property by will.

Devisee. Person to whom property is devised.

Executor. (f: Executrix) One appointed by the court to take responsibility for probate of a testate estate.

Fiduciary. Term embracing administrators, conservators, executors, guardians, trustees and others who have a special duty of good faith and responsibility to the court and interested parties in relation to the matters entrusted to him or her.

Heir. One who is designated under the laws of descent and distribution to receive the estate of a decedent not disposed of in a will. Although an heir may be a beneficiary, all beneficiaries are not necessarily heirs.

Holographic will. A will written entirely in the handwriting of the decedent.

Intestate. The state of not having written a will; also refers to the individual himself or herself.

Legacy. Same as bequest.

Legatee. One to whom a legacy or bequest is made.

Nuncupative will. An oral will knowingly made in extremis before the required number of witnesses.

Probate. The procedure to prove a will. Also, the collective term used for estates, administrations, guardianships, conservatorships and judicially-administered trusts, the common characteristic of which is appointment of a fiduciary to be responsible to the court and interested parties.

Probate in Common Form. Admission of a will to probate ex parte, without formalities.

Probate in Solemn Form. Admission of a will to probate after notice to all interested parties and a court hearing.

Residuary Estate. All that remains of an estate after the expenses of administration, debts, legacies and devises have been satisfied.

Settlor. One who creates a trust.

Testate. The state of having written a will; also refers to the individual himself or herself.

Testator. (f: Testatrix) The maker of a will, and one who dies leaving a will.

Trustor. Same as settlor.

Wrongful Death Beneficiaries. Statutory designation of persons who are entitled to a distribution of damages for another’s injury and death. Heirs and wrongful death beneficiaries are not necessarily the same persons. See MCA § 11-7-13.

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