ad litem: The judge of a probate court may appoint an attorney ad litem to represent the interests of a person having a legal disability, a nonresident, an unborn or unascertained person, or an unknown heir in any probate proceeding.
administrator: Fiduciary representative of the estate when there is not a valid will.
bequeath: Term appearing in a will meaning to leave or give property as specified therein to another person or organization.
consanguinity: The quality of being descended from the same ancestor as another person.
decedent: An individual who has died.
devisee: A person who receives a gift of real property by a will.
distribution: At the end of the probate process, the assets are given to the heirs who are entitled.
entitled: Persons who will receive assets from an estate; usually a court gives an order to name those who are entitled to inherit.
escheat: The reverting of property to the state or some agency of the state.
estate: A person’s total property. The sum total of real estate, personal property, stock or securities investments, and savings make up a person’s estate.
executor: Fiduciary representative of the estate when there is a valid will.
heir: A person, such as a child or other family member who receives property from a deceased person through the probate process or who is named in a will.
inheritance: Property received from a deceased person.
intestate: A person died without having signed a valid will.
probate: The transfer of property from a deceased person to their heirs. A court proceeding by which a will is proved valid or invalid.
real property: Land and anything attached to it, such as houses, building, barns, growing timber, growing crops, etc.
receiver: Person appointed by court to hold property until a suit is settled.
reconveyance: Property sold to another person is transferred back to the original owner.
share: The part of an estate which an heir will receive. The number of shares is not the same as the number of heirs, as some heirs may receive only part of a share.
testate: A person died who had signed a valid will.
vital records: Birth, marriage, and death records.