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Glossary Of Common Probate Terms

The intent of this glossary is to provide individuals going through probate with a general understanding of terms commonly used in Probate Law and their application. The definitions within this document are not comprehensive and are not intended to serve as a substitute for independent research of the law or for a probate attorney. We have however, reviewed the terms and we have worked with members of the law to check and review our content to provide you with the best and most up to date information. We believe that probate can be confusing and understanding the different terms is very important to navigate the process.

If you have any questions or would like to contribute to our glossary, please feel free to visit our contact page.

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  • Legal capacity is the ability or fitness to fulfill a task. In this case, it's described as the legal right, capability, to execute an activity. A person is said to have a legal capacity when they can understand the consequences of an action(...) Read More
  • Capital gains are the extra income or money realized from the sale of your capital assets. This means that the difference that exists between the original amount spent on the purchase of the asset and the amount the asset was sold for leads to(...) Read More
  • The loss that results from the sale of a capital asset, such as real estate, jewelry, or stocks and bonds. When a loss is incurred it counts against other gains and there are fewer tax consequences. Many people are unaware that a capital loss(...) Read More
  • A case management conference is a first hearing where the lawyers, judge, and all parties involved come together to discuss a case. The main purpose of a case management conference is to discuss and find out how to move a case(...) Read More
  • A  certified copy of a will or any document refers to an original copy of the document that has been stamped and authenticated by some authorized person.  Notaries can stamp and certify these copies but not always. That a copy is certified(...) Read More
  • Also known as liquidation or straight bankruptcy, a chapter 7 bankruptcy is a type of bankruptcy that is used to clear off a lot of unsecured debts.  Filing a chapter 7 bankruptcy has proven to be the last option heirs and beneficiaries use(...) Read More
  • A type of bankruptcy in which a person keeps his assets and pays creditors according to an approved plan. A petitioner will request to reorganize assets and request for debts to be forgiven. A typical chapter 13 process is listed(...) Read More
  • A Chattel is a legal term for describing an individual’s personal properties that can be transferred from one location to another. A chattel can be an animate or inanimate object like a vehicle, tool, musical instruments, furniture, hogs,(...) Read More
  • A citation is legally served to a will executor to act after the death of a testator. If he or she fails to act as soon as possible, they are removed as the will executor and the court replaces them with a more willing individual.  The new(...) Read More
  • A codicil is a legal document that acts as an addendum to your will. For example, if you want to change some of the provisions in it, then all you have to do is include those changes and additions into this supplemental section without having(...) Read More
  • A commissioner is a legal term, used to refer to the person who has been appointed by the judge to find information, facts, and hears testimonies regarding a case. Generally, their main duty is to perform specific tasks and functions that are(...) Read More
  • Common-law marriage is a legal term that refers to a relationship between two individuals who choose to live together without the benefit of a legal marriage ceremony and marriage certificate. For various reasons, some people may decide to(...) Read More
  • "Community property" is a legal term that refers to how property and income obtained during a marriage are treated. Community property laws directly impact the probate procedure and the determination of inheritance. All assets (including(...) Read More
  • Confidential records are any piece of information that should only be made available to a specific individual or group. In the court, it is any information introduced into a court proceeding that is not available to the general public. This(...) Read More
  • Conflicts of interest are used when two parties' demands or interests diverge. Relationships and the regulations of organizations and federal and state legislation can lead to a variety of Conflict of interest scenarios. It's easy for(...) Read More
  • Consent for medical treatment gives an individual the power and authority to make decisions on behalf of someone who cannot speak for themselves when they require medical treatment--an incapacitated person. As their caregiver/next friend (or(...) Read More
  • A person who is unable to protect and manage their personal care or financial affairs because the court has appointed a conservator. Read More
  • Person or institution designated by the court to protect the interests of an incompetent and act on his/her behalf. Sometimes called a guardian. Read More
  • Conservatorship is a legal position granted by the court to somebody responsible for managing the financial and personal affairs of another minor or mentally incapable person. It is possible for a conservator to also act in the capacity of a(...) Read More
  • The conservatee’s financial obligations and assets. Read More
  • Contempt is defined as "disobeying a court order," or obstructing the justice and the individual who does so is referred to as a contemnor (as in "disobeying a court order"). It is unlawful to be disobedient or disrespectful toward a court(...) Read More
  • A contestant is a person defending against an unfavorable claim brought before a court by a plaintiff or a prosecutor; contesting a position taken by a party in legal action, such as contesting the validity of a will. A person who contests(...) Read More
  • The process of challenging another person's position in a court proceeding, whether it is the plaintiff or prosecutor making an adverse claim against you. Read More
  • A contingent beneficiary is an individual designated by an asset owner or financial account holder to receive the benefit of an asset if the primary beneficiary is unable to accept the assets. This is because any person who is the beneficiary(...) Read More
  • Probate court investigators look into those attempting to take on the responsibilities of another person's life and gather information. Adopting a child or taking over decision-making for an older relative are examples of this type of(...) Read More
  • A creditor is a person or entity who is owed money. If you owe money to someone at any point in time, you are a debtor to them. The powers and definition might vary depending on the type of creditor and debtor involved in the transaction.(...) Read More
  • When in probate, creditors have a period of time to make a claim on the estate. A credit claim occurs when money is owed by the decedent or the person who passes away. Credits make a claim to the money that is owed to them which must be paid(...) Read More
  • A person who is in charge of something or a person is known as a custodian. Custodians of minors' property, for example. Under the Uniform Transfers to Minors Act, a custodian is a person who manages and distributes funds for a minor without(...) Read More

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