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PROBATE & LEGAL TERMS (GLOSSARY)

1. Probate is the court process of changing the title on assets owned by a deceased person.

2. Not all assets need to be probated.

3. Probate does take a long time and it can cost a lot of money.

4. Being in probate while you’re alive is worse than being in probate when you’re dead.

5. With a little planning, avoiding probate is easy.

Administrator

The person responsible for overseeing the distribution of the estate, and may also be referred to as the “Personal representative”

 

Beneficiary

A person designated by the decedent who inherits under a Will.

​Creditor’s Claim
A written claim filed by a person or entity owed money by a decedent.

Court
The Los Angeles Superior Court, Probate Division.

Custodian of the Will
The individual who has the physical possession of the Will when the individual who wrote the Will dies.
 

Decedent (or deceased)

The person who died.


Decedent’s estate
All the property (home and/or personal effects) that a person owned at the time of death.

Executor
A person named in a Will and appointed by the Court to carry out the decedent’s wishes written in the Will.

Heir
A person recognized by law, who inherits when there is no Will.

In-kind
The distribution of a particular asset to a beneficiary.

Intestate
When someone dies without leaving a Will.

Intestate succession
The order in which heirs inherit the decedent’s estate when a person dies without a Will.

Interested parties
Persons who have requested notice for Court proceedings for an estate administration.

Legatees, or devisees
This is another term for Beneficiary.

Next–of–kin
Family members, who are in the closest relationship to the decedent.

Personal property
Items owned by the decedent at time of death, such as cash, stocks, jewelry, clothing, furniture, or cars.

Personal representative
Individual(s) responsible for overseeing the distribution of the estate. The individual(s) may also be called the Administrator(s).

Probate proceeding
The legal process of deciding where, how, and to whom to distribute the decedent’s estate, is supervised by the Court and generally applies to decedent estates with a value exceeding $150,000, at the time of death.

Public Administrator (PA)
A branch of the Department of the Treasurer-Tax Collector for Los Angeles County, responsible for investigating, managing, and administering certain cases of deceased Los Angeles County residents.

Real property
Buildings and land, including the residence owned by the decedent at the time of death.

Summary proceeding
Transfer of a decedent’s assets without Court supervision. Summary proceedings are only conducted by the Public Administrator, with limited or no Court supervision, where the total value of the decedent’s estate does not exceed $150,000.

Testate
When someone dies leaving a Will.

Trust
When a person (trustee) holds property at another person’s (settlor’s) request for the benefit of someone else (beneficiary).

Will
A legal document that lists a person’s wishes about what will happen to his/her estate after death.