Probate Terms

View important probate terms:

  • Administrator: The person appointed by and qualified by the probate clerk to administer the decedent's estate when he or she died without a will.
  • Administrator CTA: A person, other than the executor named in the will, that is appointed to administer the decedent's estate. This person serves when all named executors are unable to serve due to incapacity, death, or refusal of their right to serve.
  • Beneficiary: The person or organization entitled to receive from the estate.
  • Bond: A written and signed promise to pay a certain sum of money on a certain date, or on fulfillment of a specified condition, to which the obligor officially recognizes an obligation to pay money in the event he or she does not properly perform his or her duties.
  • Certificate of Qualification: This Certificate is the paper that the personal representative receives from the probate clerk at the time that he or she qualifies as executor or administrator of the decedent's estate and it states that the qualified representative has authority to act on behalf of the estate.
  • Certified Copy: A copy of a record or document signed and certified by the Clerk or Deputy Clerk of the Court as a true copy of the record in that Court that is the custodian of the original record or document.
  • Codicil: An addendum to a will that may modify, add to, alter, subtract from, restrain or revoke provisions in an existing will.
  • Commissioner of Accounts: An individual appointed by the Circuit Court to monitor the activities of personal representatives.
  • Creditor: An organization or person who owes the decedent money.
  • Decedent: The deceased person.
  • Estate: All property belonging to the decedent at the time of his or her death, including real estate, tangible and intangible personal property, and all other assets owned by or in his or her control.
  • Executor: The individual named in the decedent's will to administer the estate. The Executor must appear before the Clerk and qualify to validate his or her appointment.
  • Fiduciary: A term used to refer to an executor, administrator or trustee. This is a person in a position of trust for another's property.
  • Heirs at Law: Individual(s) who would inherit the decedent's estate if he or she died without a will.
  • Holographic Will: A will written wholly by the testator in his own handwriting and not witnessed.
  • Intestate Estate: An estate that is administered without a will.
  • Inventory: A list detailing the schedule of property in an estate, describing the specific article and its value.
  • Personal Representative: A term used for either the administrator or executor of the decedent's estate.
  • Probate: The procedure that admits a will to record in the Clerk's Office. Also, used to include the entire process of administering an estate including qualification.
  • Qualification: The procedure where the Clerk appoints a person to serve as executor or administrator of a decedent's estate.
  • Self-Proved Will: A will that includes a notarized affidavit of the testator and attesting witnesses, who all signed in the presence of each other.
  • Testator: One who dies leaving a will.
  • Testate Estate: An estate to be administered pursuant to a will.
  • Will: A written document that gives instruction on how a decedent wants his or her property disposed of after his or her death.