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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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  • A court order is the only way to get a closer look at these records, but it's not easy. Courts are really protective of their privacy and will do everything in their power to keep people from seeing what they have found out about you or anyone(...) Read More
  • A will accompanied by a sworn statement from witnesses and signed before a notary public. A self-proving will is a standard will that meets certain criteria that enables it to be approved without going through probate court. A notary public(...) Read More
  • A decedent’s estate may avoid a formal probate administration and have property transferred directly to an heir if the decedent’s estate meets the requirements of California Probate Code §13100 et. seq. (e.g. estates less than(...) Read More
  • When someone is appointed as the "special administrator" of an estate during an emergency or challenge, they have a limited time to maintain and preserve it. The role does not necessarily mean that they will take over probate proceedings from(...) Read More
  • A Special Needs Trust will allow the beneficiary of a trust to have their assets protected so that they are not subject to qualification requirements for certain benefits. The portion of a person's financial need not covered by public(...) Read More
  • A specific item, distinguished from all others of the same kind belongs to a testator which they designated in their will as going to one specific person. If this particular object is no longer present when that person dies then there can be(...) Read More
  • A trust designed to keep money out of the hands of creditors, often established to protect someone who is incapable of managing his or her financial affairs. A separate legal body, a spendthrift trust. The trust distributes cash to your(...) Read More
  • The entitlement of one spouse to inherit property from the other spouse. The right varies from state to state. It's important to understand if the state has community property When it comes to property ownership it's important to know(...) Read More
  • A person's legal right to file a lawsuit. To become involved, they must be sufficiently affected by the matter at hand and there needs to exist an actual controversy which can only resolved through litigation or some other form of legal(...) Read More
  • In many states and in most probate matters, the amount an attorney can charge for his or her services is specified by law as a percentage of the gross value of the estate. The law of jurisdiction and, in some situations, the judgment of the(...) Read More
  • Statutory wills follow the standard language contained in a state wills statute. Some states have a template and format for their wills and they can be easily followed by the testator. Statutory wills are therefore very simple and not all(...) Read More
  • An agreement between parties or their attorneys. This contract details what will happen if one of the terms are met, and how it can affect either side accordingly. The conclusion of a lawsuit by mutual consent of the parties. A stipulation(...) Read More
  • It is a Latin phrase meaning “of its own accord.” When judges do something outside the scope of what either party requests, they use this word to describe it. Sua Sponte is used to indicate that a court has taken notice of an issue on its own(...) Read More
  • The courts can order a conservator to take certain actions relating the estates of their clients. This includes making gifts or transferring assets into trusts for them, among other things Debtors must pay their creditors a certain amount(...) Read More
  • The next person or organization appointed if a vacancy arises in a conservatorship, guardianship, or decedent’s estate because of the fiduciary’s death, removal, or resignation. When a previous trustee passes away or becomes unable to(...) Read More
  • A money judgment which the court can impose on a fiduciary if their improper acts cause losses to an estate will be paid from its assets. An additional price or surcharge. Surcharges are additional charges that are imposed on something that(...) Read More
  • Surety bonds are typically used to protect against the risk of default by an obligee (such as a contractor). Bonds guarantee that if your project fails, they'll be sure and pay up. Surety bonds sometimes are important for probate or estate(...) Read More

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