Probate Real Estate Glossary: Demystifying Complex Terminology


Understanding probate real estate terminology can be challenging, especially when you’re dealing with the emotional stress of losing a loved one. Our comprehensive glossary breaks down complex terms and concepts, helping you make informed decisions throughout the probate process. In this post, we’ll cover some of the most common probate real estate terms you may encounter.

  1. Probate

Probate is the legal process of administering a deceased person’s estate, which involves validating their will (if one exists), settling debts, and distributing assets to beneficiaries. Probate can be a complex and time-consuming process, and it’s crucial to work with an experienced probate realtor to navigate the intricacies.

  1. Executor

The executor is the person appointed in a will to manage the deceased person’s estate. Their primary responsibilities include gathering assets, paying debts and taxes, and distributing the remaining assets to beneficiaries as per the will’s instructions.

  1. Administrator

In cases where there is no will or the named executor is unable or unwilling to serve, the court will appoint an administrator to manage the estate. Their duties are similar to those of an executor.

  1. Decedent

The decedent is the individual who has passed away, whose estate is being administered through the probate process.

  1. Estate

The estate comprises all of the decedent’s assets, including real estate, personal property, bank accounts, investments, and more. These assets are gathered, valued, and ultimately distributed to beneficiaries during the probate process.

  1. Letters Testamentary / Letters of Administration

These are court-issued documents granting the executor or administrator authority to manage the estate. In the case of an executor, Letters Testamentary are issued, while Letters of Administration are granted to an administrator.

  1. Heir

An heir is a person legally entitled to inherit some or all of the decedent’s estate in the absence of a valid will. State intestacy laws determine the distribution of assets among heirs.

  1. Beneficiary

A beneficiary is a person named in a will to receive specific assets from the decedent’s estate. Beneficiaries can include family members, friends, or organizations like charities.

  1. Intestate

Intestate refers to the situation when a person dies without leaving a valid will. In such cases, the decedent’s assets are distributed according to state intestacy laws.

  1. Real Property

Real property refers to land and any attached structures, such as houses, buildings, or other improvements. Probate real estate transactions involve the transfer of real property owned by the decedent.


Navigating the probate process can be overwhelming, particularly when dealing with complex legal terminology. By familiarizing yourself with the terms in this glossary, you’ll be better equipped to make informed decisions throughout the probate real estate process. Working with a knowledgeable probate realtor can further streamline the experience and ensure the best possible outcome for all parties involved.

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