Probate Terms to Know

Probate is the process of settling the final affairs of a loved one. Parties involved in probate need to understand the legal terminology used to ensure that the administration of the decedent’s estate can proceed efficiently.

Whether you are creating your estate plan or have recently lost a family member and need to understand what the probate process entails, you must seek legal guidance from a skilled estate planning attorney.

At Russell Manning Attorney at Law, I provide reliable advice on how to avoid probate as much as possible and help people in Corpus Christi, Texas, handle the administration of an estate. I also serve clients in South Texas, Bee County, Kleberg County, Nueces County, and Live Oak County, Texas.  

Glossary of Probate Terms in Texas

There are many confusing probate terms that people involved in the administration of an estate need to understand. The following terms are also essential for those creating an estate plan who want to understand how to avoid probate.

  • Capacity: The law requires the individual creating legal documents for an estate plan to understand the consequences of their actions and have the ability to make rational decisions. This is known as “capacity” in the context of estate planning.
  • Will: Also known as a last will and testament, a will is a legal document that coordinates how the testator wants their assets to be distributed after their death and who will be appointed as a guardian to care for their minor children.
  • Testator: A testator is a person who writes a last will and testament.
  • Testate: A testate is a testator who died having left a valid will that contains instructions regarding the distribution of their assets.
  • Intestate succession: When a person dies without a will, their assets and money will be distributed to heirs according to the intestate succession laws.
  • Probate: Probate is a court-supervised legal proceeding in which the court reviews and authenticates the deceased person’s will and oversees the distribution of the decedent’s assets. Contrary to popular belief, an estate may be subject to probate even if the decedent died with a will.
  • Executor: The executor of an estate is a person appointed by the testator in the will to carry out the testator’s instructions and manage their affairs after their death. Some states replace the term “executor” with “personal representative.”
  • Administrator: Unlike an executor, who is named by the decedent prior to their death, an administrator of an estate is appointed by the court after the decedent’s death without a will.
  • Beneficiary: In estate planning, a beneficiary is an individual, trust, or organization designated to receive benefits from an estate. For example, the testator may name their beneficiaries when writing a will. However, beneficiaries may receive the assets only after the will is reviewed and approved by the probate court.
  • Guardianship: A guardian is someone who is granted control over the decision-making authority of another person, while guardianship refers to the duties and authority of a guardian.
  • Power of attorney: Also known as POA, a power of attorney is a legal document in which the principal (the person creating the document) gives another person (their agent or attorney-in-fact) authority to act on their behalf in the event of their incapacity.
  • Trust: A trust is a legal instrument that can be created by individuals during their lifetime or at death. Basically, the term “trust” refers to a fiduciary relationship between a trustor and a trustee.
  • Trustor: A trustor is an individual who creates a trust and transfers their assets into a trust.
  • Trustee: A trustee is an entity or person who is given the authority to manage the assets transferred by the trustor into a trust for the benefit of a third party.

Probate is a complex process that involves many confusing terms and legal nuances. However, you do not have to go through it alone. Consider speaking with an experienced probate attorney to help you through the probate process.

How a Knowledgeable
Attorney Can Help

As an experienced estate planning attorney serving clients in Corpus Christi, Texas, and throughout South Texas, I can seek to help you with any of your complex probate concerns. At Russell Manning Attorney at Law, I have the necessary expertise to assist you at every step of probate and ensure that the process goes smoothly. Contact me at Russell Manning Attorney at Law to receive your consultation today. I also serve clients in Jim Wells County, Aransas County, and Victoria County, Texas.


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