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California Probate, Will & Trust Lawyer > Blog > Probate > Important Terms You Should Know When It Comes To Probate

Important Terms You Should Know When It Comes To Probate


If you’ve lost a loved one and have to go through the probate process, you will likely hear many terms you are not familiar with. The terms used in probate can be confusing. It’s crucial that you take time to familiarize yourself with some of the most important terms used in probate. Below, we share a few of the many important terms you may encounter during the probate process.


The legal process through which a Will is authenticated and a deceased person’s estate distributed. A deceased person’s estate can also be probated even if there is no Will.


Reducing some gifts under a Will when the estate does not have enough money to meet expenses, pay taxes, pay debts, and take care of other bequests that are prioritized under law or the Will.


A person (or institution) who the court appoints if there is no Will to administer an estate.


A statement that someone writes after taking an oath or officially promising to tell the truth.


A legal document determining the value of probate property, including real estate, cars, household furnishings, jewelry, and artwork.

Ancillary administration

A legal proceeding for assets in another state other than where the deceased resided.


A person or an organization that is entitled to receive benefits under a Will. Usually, beneficiaries cannot acquire their benefits until the probate court has examined and approved the Will.


Personal property left in a Will.


A type of court bond that usually works as a guarantee that the personal representative will act according to the law and the terms of the Will.


A legal document that permits someone to make changes or add provisions to a Will without creating a new one.

Community Property

Property that spouses acquire during their marriage, not including property obtained as a gift.


An individual or institution to whom the estate owes money.


The person who died.


This is when a decedent’s property passes to the state because the decedent dies without legal heirs.


Someone or an institution named in a Will and appointed by the court to carry out the directions in the Will.


Someone entitled to property after their loved one dies without a Will under the state’s intestate succession laws.


This term is used when a person dies without a Will.

Joint tenancy

The holding of property by multiple parties, each party’s share passing to the other or others upon death, regardless of what is written in a Will.

Personal Representative

The generic title for the person or institution authorized to act on behalf of the decedent’s estate. In other words, the executor or administrator.

Petition for probate

It consists of an application to be officially appointed as the executor, the original Will, and the death certificate.


A person who makes a Will.


A document detailing how a decedent wants their property to be distributed.

Will Contest

A proceeding where interested parties contest the validity of a Will. In California, there are a limited number of valid reasons for contesting a Will. They include fraud, lack of testamentary capacity, undue influence, and duress.

Contact The Probate Guy for Legal Help

If you recently lost a loved one and need legal guidance, contact the skilled and dedicated California probate attorney, Robert L. Cohen – The Probate Guy – today to schedule a FREE telephonic consultation.

Southern California Probate Lawyer Serving Orange, Riverside, Anaheim, Whittier & Beyond.

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I love being a probate attorney. I love helping people through a very difficult time in their lives with the probate process. My practice focuses solely on probate matters. My job is to complete the probate process as efficiently and painlessly for my clients as possible. I have found that paying the upfront costs of probate adds unneeded stress, so I will advance all of the fees and costs for the probate. No money is required to complete the probate. I will be reimbursed at the end of the case when you receive your inheritance. Call me NOW to discuss your case for free.

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