You may encounter hard-to-understand legal terms as you go through the probate process.

The following is a list of terms and definitions:

  • Administrator/Administratrix – Person appointed by the courts to take charge of the estate of a decedent who dies without a will.
  • Beneficiary – Person designated to receive money, property or benefits in a will.
  • Bequest – A gift of personal property by a will.
  • Bequeath – To dispose of personal property through a will.
  • Codicil – An addition or supplement to an original will that adds to or deletes only part of a will.
  • Decedent – A deceased person.
  • Devise – A gift of real estate through a will.
  • Escheat – Property reverting to the state for want of any legal heir.
  • Estate – Property and possessions owned by an individual.
  • Executor/Executrix – Person named in a will to carry out the wishes and intentions of the will.
  • Guardian – Person entrusted by the law with the personal and/or fiduciary care of another.
  • Heir – Person who inherits property from a deceased person through a blood relationship, including legal adoptions.
  • Intestate – When a person dies without a will.
  • Legatee – Person who receives a gift under a will.
  • Personal property – Intangible property, such as stock, bonds or bank accounts and tangible property such as jewelry, furniture or an automobile
  • Probate – Official proof of the authenticity or validity of a will.
  • Real Property – Land or building.
  • Surrogate – Elected county official who oversees probate in the State of New Jersey.
  • Testator/testatrix – Person who makes a will.
  • Trust – Property owned or managed by a person for another.
  • Trustee – Person holding property in trust for another.
  • Will – A legal declaration of the manner in which a person wishes his or her estate to be distributed after death.
  • Witness – Person who observes the signing of a document and attests to the signatures.