Taking an estate through California probate can make a trying time even more emotionally exhausting. Even the best prepared person may struggle to make sense of the court’s varied rules, expectations, and deadlines. For most people, probate is a new and often uncomfortable experience, and many procedural documents are filled with archaic words and terms, some of which seemingly require a law degree to understand.
To help our clients and the general public better navigate California probate, The Law Firm of Kavesh, Minor & Otis, Inc. has prepared a glossary of common probate terms.
A Glossary of Probate Terms
A written or oral statement submitted to the court, which may be punished under penalty of perjury.
An individual or entity entitled to receive assets from an estate. Someone may be named the beneficiary to an estate, a will, a trust, or a life insurance policy.
All of the income or assets acquired by a couple throughout the course of their marriage. Only nine states, including California, have community property laws. Under community property doctrine, each spouse holds an equitable 50-50 share in community assets.
The individual who has passed away. The word decedent is typically used to refer to the deceased person whose assets are being distributed by a will, in probate, or through a trust.
A person who is appointed by the court to settle the decedent’s affairs and disburse their estate assets when the decedent died without a will or other legal arrangements.
A person named in a will and approved by a court to fulfill the decedent’s last wishes.
In contrast to a beneficiary, an heir is someone who inherits when the decedent died without a will.
A will written by the decedent and composed entirely in their own handwriting. Holographic wills are recognized by California courts, even without witness attestation. However, they are easier to challenge.
When someone dies without a will.
When someone dies intestate, a California probate court will determine the distribution of their assets in accordance with a strict legal formula to surviving spouses and close blood relatives. This is called intestate succession.
Also known as devisees or the persons who have been named beneficiaries in a will.
The California court process which decides where, how, and to whom a deceased person’s property will be disbursed.
A legal proceeding where a will is submitted to a California probate court. Once the will is submitted, an estate administrator or executor will oversee the closure of the estate. This involves inventorying and appraising the totality of the estate’s probate assets, resolving its unpaid debts, and distributing inheritances and gifts to beneficiaries.
Legal challenges filed against an estate or associated will or trust. Probate litigation may take the form of a challenge to a will’s validity, a creditor claim, or a beneficiary’s petition to dislodge a trustee.
All buildings and land, vacant or occupied, owned by an individual or decedent.
The term used for the person who has written a will or, in some instances, founded a trust. Settlor, grantor, and founder are also used to refer to persons who have established a trust.
An estate planning arrangement in which an individual’s assets are transferred to the ownership of a “container” vessel, or trust. Trusts are often used to disburse assets to beneficiaries without the need for probate proceedings.
A legal document that details an individual’s wishes about what they would like to happen to their assets after death. A will may also include important health care provisions and cite a guardian for the decedent’s minor children or pets.
Do You Need Legal Help Regarding Probate Issues In California?
If a loved one died without a will and you need legal assistance regarding the probate process you should be speak with an experienced probate attorney as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our office directly at 800.756.5596 to claim your space at one of our free, informative seminars. Your attendance will qualify you for a discount for our probate services. We proudly serve clients throughout California with offices in experienced probate attorney as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our office directly at 800.756.5596 to claim your space at one of our free, informative seminars. Your attendance will qualify you for a discount for our probate services. We proudly serve clients throughout California with offices in Torrance, Newport Beach, Orange, Woodland Hills and Pasadena." target="_blank">Torrance, Newport Beach, Orange, Woodland Hills and Pasadena.