Common Probate TermsCommon Probate Terms

There are common probate terms that you will come across during the course of your proceedings. Below, we will define these common probate terms to help you better prepare for carrying out your duties.


Before going into specific probate terms, it is important to briefly define what probate is. Probate is the court guided process through which a deceased person’s property is distributed and their debts are paid. If someone passes with or without a will the probate process will give you the authority to access accounts, sell property, and other duties you will need to carry out.

Personal Representative

The personal representative, sometimes called executor, is the person(s) whom the court has given the approval to care for the probate case. You can petition the court to act in this capacity if the Will names you or you qualify under your state’s laws of intestacy.

Letter of Administration

Letters of Administration is the document the court issues to the personal representative. It is the proof of authority you need to handle the affairs of the probate.


Administration refers to the process the personal representative follows to manage and settle an estate. This involved locating all assets, paying creditors, and distributing funds to beneficiaries.


And estate is all of the assets (accounts, personal property, and real property) an individual owns at the time of their passing.

Creditor Claim

Creditor claims are formal documents that individuals or entities file with the court claiming that the decedent’s estate owes them money.


A bond is a type of insurance policy that the personal representative purchases to protect estate assets. Bonds can be very pricey and the need for one is usually waived by the Will or the consent of all beneficiaries.


This term refers to someone who is legally entitled to receive assets from an estate.


The decedent is a legal term used to refer to the deceased person whose estate is being administered


Intestate refers to an individual who passes without a valid Will.


Testate is an individual who passes with a valid Will.


A Will, or Last Will and Testament, is a legal document through which an individual gives instructions on how to distribute their estate through probate.


Distributions are when the personal representative divides estate funds to beneficiaries


Understanding common probate terms will help ease the confusion of administering an estate. But they are just basic terms and the more research you do the better off you will be.

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