Glossary

Probate Terms

Administrator/Administratrix
A person appointed by the Surrogate to manage and distribute the estate of a person who dies without a Last Will and Testament. In some cases this individual would be required to post a Surety Bond as a condition of their appointment.

Affidavit of Next of Kin

A document issued by the Surrogate which allows the next of kin to dispose of the decedent's property. This affidavit is issued in cases where there is no will, no spouse, and the total value of the property does not exceed $20,000. There would be a signed and sealed Affidavit provided listing for each individual asset.
 
Affidavit of Surviving Spouse
A document issued by the Surrogate which allows the husband or wife of the deceased to dispose of the property. This affidavit is issued in cases where there is no will and the value of the estate in the deceased’s name does not exceed $50,000. There would be a signed and sealed Affidavit provided listing for each individual asset.

Beneficiary

A person designated to receive money, property or benefits.

Bequest
A gift of personal property by a Last Will and Testament.

Bequeath
To dispose of personal property through a Last Will and Testament.

Caveat
A formal notice filed with the Surrogate’s Court by someone to prevent the proving of a Last Will and Testament or the granting of administration of an estate.

Codicil
An addition or supplement to an original Last Will and Testament that adds to or deletes only part of a Last Will and Testament.

Decedent
A deceased person.

Devise
A gift of real or personal property made by Will.

Executor/Executrix
A person named in a Will to carry out the wishes and intentions of the Will. (Also known as the Personal Representative)

Heir
A person who inherits property from a deceased person.

Intestate
A person who dies without a Last Will and Testament.

Legatee
Person who receives personal property under a Last Will and Testament.

Notice of Probate
A notice in writing signed by the Executor/trix of the Will to all beneficiaries under the Will and to all the next of kin who would inherit under the intestacy rule that the Last Will and testament has been probated. Notice must include the place and date of the probate, the name of the Executor/trix, and a statement that a copy the Last Will and Testament will be provided upon request.

Personal Property
Intangible property, such as stocks, bonds, or bank accounts; tangible property such as furniture, or jewelry.

Probate
The process by which a Last Will and Testament is determined to be genuine and valid.

Real Property
Land and buildings.

Renunciation
The act of giving up a right.

Short Certificate
Legal document issued by the Surrogate’s Court to the Executor/trix or Administrator/trix of an estate that is used as proof of his/her authority to transfer or sell assets of the decedent.

Surety Bond
A contract between at least three parties: the obligee, the principal, and the surety. Required to insure the assets and debtors are protected.

Testator/rix
The person who makes a Will.

Trust
A property held and managed by one person for the benefit of another.

Trustee
A person appointed to hold property in trust for another.

Waiver
A legal instrument relinquishing a right or lien.

Last Will and Testament
A legal declaration of the manner in which a person wishes their estate divided after death.

Witness
Person who observes the signing of a Last Will and Testament  and also attests to the signatures. 


Adult Guardianship Terms

Best Interest Standard
Making decisions based on what you believe to be in the best interest of another person.

Commissions
Compensation set by statute to which an individual, such as a guardian of the estate of an incapacitated person is entitled. A guardian of the person is NOT entitled to commissions.

General Guardianship

A “complete in every respect” type of guardianship in which the guardian is able to exercise all rights and powers of the incapacitated person in terms of the area of responsibility he or she is granted.

Guardian
An individual appointed by the court with authority over the person and/or the estate of a person who has been legally declared incapacitated.

Guardian of the Estate

An individual appointed by the court to handle the financial affairs of another person who has been legally declared incapacitated.

Guardian of the Person
An individual appointed by the court to handle the personal medical affairs of another person who has been legally declared incapacitated.

Incapacity
Inability to govern oneself and/or one’s affairs. 

Adjudicated Incapacitated Person
An individual legally declared by the court unable to govern himself or herself and/or unable to manage his or her affairs.

Judgment
The official decision of a court case.

Service
Legally appropriate way to deliver papers.

Short Certificate
Short forms of the Letters of Guardianship, stating that by Judgment of a particular date, the guardian was appointed with authority of the person and or estate of the incapacitated person

Surety Bond
A contract between at least three parties: the obligee, the principal, and the surety. Required to insure the incapacitated individual is protected.

General Terms

Estate
Real and personal property and possessions; everything a person owns.

Minor
A person who is under the age of 18.

Joint Tenancy with Rights of Survivorship
Two or more persons owning real property where the survivor will inherit the property. 

Levy
To collect by assessment.

Lien
A charge upon property, for the satisfaction of a debt.

Surrogate
An elected Constitutional officer who serves as Judge of the Surrogate Court for uncontested probate and estate matters. A Surrogate also serves as Deputy Clerk of the Superior Court for the Probate part, as well as for adoptions in the Family Part. 

Tenants in Common
Two or more persons owning undivided individual interests in a single piece of property.

Tenants by the Entirety
Real property owned as husband and with rights of survivorship.