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Glossary of Legal Terms

Administrator, Administratrix (also known as Personal Representative) Person or institution appointed by the court to manage and distribute the estate of a person who dies without a will.

Beneficiary Person named to receive property or benefits.

Codicil An addition or supplement made to change or add provisions to a will.

Contingent beneficiary Receiver or property or benefits if first-named beneficiary dies before receiving all benefits.

Contract Legally enforceable agreement.

Decedenta A deceased person.

Devise To give real or Personal Property.

Estate Everything a person owns, all real and personal property owned.

Executor, Executrix (also known as a Personal Representative) A person or institution named in the will to carry out the provisions and directions of the will.

Intestate A person who dies without making a valid will.

Legatee Person who receives personal property under a will.

Levied To collect by assessment.

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

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

Probate Official proof of the genuineness of a will.

Real Property Land and buildings.

Surrogate A judicial officer who has jurisdiction over the probate of wills in the absence of a contest and acts as the Clerk of the Probate Court in the settlement of estates, guardianships, and trusts.

Tenants in common Two or more persons owning individual interests in property.

Testator, Testatrix The person who makes a will.

Trust Property owned and managed by one person for the benefit of another.

Trustee Person or institution holding property in trust.

Waiver A legal instrument relinquishing a right or lien.

Will A legal declaration of the manner in which a person wishes his estate divided after death.

Witness Person who observed the signing of a will and also attests to the signatures.