Dictionary of Law

probate :: legal definition

Probate - 1) n. the process of proving a will is valid and thereafter administering the estate of a dead person according to the terms of the will. The first step is to file the purported will with the clerk of the appropriate court in the county where the deceased person lived, along with a petition to have the court approve the will and appoint the executor named in the will (or if none is available, an administrator) with a declaration of a person who had signed the will as a witness. If the court determines the will is valid, the court then "admits" the will to probate. 2) n. a general term for the entire process of administration of estates of dead persons, including those without wills, with court supervision. The means of "avoiding" probate exist, including creating trusts in which all possessions are handled by a trustee, making lifetime gifts or putting all substantial property in joint tenancy with an automatic right of survivorship in the joint owner. Even if there is a will, probate may not be necessary if the estate is small with no real estate title to be transferred or all of the estate is either jointly owned or community property. Reasons for avoiding probate are the fees set by statute and/or the court (depending on state laws) for attorneys, executors and administrators, the need to publish notices, court hearings, paperwork, the public nature of the proceedings and delays while waiting for creditors to file claims even when the deceased owed no one. 3) v. to prove a will in court and proceed with administration of a deceased's estate under court supervision. 4) adj. reference to the appropriate court for handling estate matters, as in "probate court."

See also: administrator executor will and Related Law Terms ↓

Related Law Terms

abuse of discretion :: n. a polite way of saying a trial judge has made s ... partner's realistic ability to pay.
abuse of process :: n. the use of legal process by illegal, malicious, ... ly correct the error and apologize.
acknowledgment :: n. the section at the end of a document where a no ... me leases and various other papers.
actual controversy :: n. a true legal dispute which leads to a genuine l ... al outcome. See also: friendly suit
ad litem :: adj. legal Latin meaning "for the purposes of the ... of age. See also: guardian ad litem
administrator :: n. the person appointed by the court to handle the ... e also: administer executor probate
adoption :: n. the taking of a child into one's family, creati ... the child are met. See also: adopt
advancement :: n. a gift made by a person to one of his or her ch ... tate gift in contemplation of death
after-acquired property :: n. 1) personal or real property acquired by a debt ... lso: bankruptcy secured transaction
after-acquired title :: n. title to property acquired after the owner atte ... ed title goes automatically to Sam.
amicus curiae :: n. Latin for "friend of the court," a party or an ... party's presentation to the court.
ancillary administration :: n. administration of an estate's assets in another ... or "subordinate." See also: probate
answer :: n. in law, a written pleading filed by a defendant ... emurrer general denial verification
appeal :: 1) v. to ask a higher court to reverse the decisio ... ng, as in "he has filed an appeal."
arbitration :: n. a mini-trial, which may be for a lawsuit ready ... tance of the arbitrator's decision.
arrest :: v. 1) to take or hold a suspected criminal with le ... anda warning probable cause warrant
attachment :: n. the seizing of money or property prior to getti ... bond. See also: writ of attachment
Attorney General :: n. in each state and the federal government the hi ... izenry. See also: Solicitor General
bailiff :: n. 1) a court official, usually a deputy sheriff, ... isdictional territory of a bailiff.
bankruptcy :: n. a federal system of statutes and courts which p ... y proceedings trustee in bankruptcy
bankruptcy proceedings :: n. the bankruptcy procedure is: a) filing a petiti ... ankruptcy court claim in bankruptcy
bar examination :: n. the examination given in each state by either t ... n that district. See also: attorney
Chief Justice :: n. the presiding judge of any State Supreme Court ... nks of existing Associate Justices.
child custody :: n. a court's determination of which parent, relati ... pport custody divorce joint custody
claim against an estate :: n. upon the death of a person and beginning of pro ... ade to the heirs. See also: probate
clerk :: n. 1) an official or employee who handles the busi ... stocking shelves, or counter sales.
codicil :: n. a written amendment to a person's will, which m ... the writer. See also: probate will
complaint :: n. the first document filed with the court (actual ... g prayer service of process summons
conflict of interest :: n. a situation in which a person has a duty to mor ... a position adverse to the customer.
conservator :: n. a guardian and protector appointed by a judge t ... ies. See also: conservatee guardian
constitution :: n. the fundamental, underlying document which esta ... ts common law constitutional rights
constructive notice :: n. a fiction that a person got notice even though ... personally. See also: constructive
contempt of court :: n. there are essentially two types of contempt: a) ... roduce evidence. See also: sanction
contract :: 1) n. an agreement with specific terms between two ... n oral contract unilateral contract
copyright :: 1) n. the exclusive right of the author or creator ... plagiarism public domain trademark
corporation :: n. an organization formed with state governmental ... ation public corporation securities
court :: n. 1) the judge, as in "The court rules in favor o ... cost and wait of full court trials.
court costs :: n. fees for expenses that the courts pass on to at ... ee also: cost bill prevailing party
creditor's claim :: n. a claim required to be filed in writing, in a p ... e also: claim in bankruptcy probate
cross-complaint :: n. after a complaint has been filed against a defe ... g prayer service of process summons
damages :: n. the amount of money which a plaintiff (the pers ... liquidated damages special damages
deceased :: 1) adj. dead. 2) n. the person who has died, as us ... ore genteel word is the "decedent."
declaration of mailing :: n. a form stating that a particular document has b ... other party. See also: declaration
demurrer :: n. (dee-muhr-ur) a written response to a complaint ... demurrer. See also: motion pleading
descent :: n. the rules of inheritance established by law in ... on inheritance intestate succession
dismiss :: v. the ruling by a judge that all or a portion (on ... nst that party. See also: dismissal
dissent :: n. 1) the opinion of a judge of a court of appeals ... sagreement with prevailing thought.
eminent domain :: n. the power of a governmental entity (federal, st ... ngs. See also: condemn condemnation
equal protection of the law :: n. the right of all persons to have the same acces ... laws." See also: due process of law
estate :: n. 1) all that one owns in real estate and other a ... ife estate probate real estate will
estate tax :: n. generally a federal tax on the transfer of a de ... commonly called an inheritance tax.
executor :: n. the person appointed to administer the estate o ... sed decedent executrix probate will
false arrest :: n. physically detaining someone without the legal ... sment. See also: false imprisonment
fiduciary :: 1) n. from the Latin fiducia, meaning "trust," a p ... lation fiduciary relationship trust
file :: 1) v. to deposit with the clerk of the court a wri ... rrespondence and notes on the case.
fraud :: n. the intentional use of deceit, a trick or some ... audulent conveyance intrinsic fraud
gift in contemplation of death :: n. (called a gift causa mortis by lawyers showing ... ift tax unified estate and gift tax
guardian :: n. a person who has been appointed by a judge to t ... torship. See also: conservator ward
habeas corpus :: (hay-bee-us core-puss) n. Latin for "you have the ... nality of a state court conviction.
harassment :: (either harris-meant or huh-rass-meant) n. the act ... See also: harass sexual harassment
head of household :: n. 1) in federal income tax law, the person filing ... n or daughter. 3) "head of family."
hearsay rule :: n. the basic rule that testimony or documents whic ... interest dying declaration hearsay
holographic will :: n. a will entirely handwritten, dated and signed b ... lost in the desert. See also: will
impute :: v. 1) to attach to a person responsibility (and th ... also. See also: vicarious liability
in kind :: adj. referring to payment, distribution or substit ... . See also: distribution trust will
in personam :: adj. (in purr-soh-nam) from Latin for "directed to ... here. See also: in rem jurisdiction
incompetency :: n. the condition of lacking the ability to handle ... and/or represented by an attorney.
incorporate :: v. 1) to obtain an official charter or articles of ... te by reference incorporation stock
indictment :: n. a charge of a felony (serious crime) voted by a ... ictable offense preliminary hearing
indigent :: 1) n. a person so poor and needy that he/she canno ... person who is very poor and needy.
injunction :: n. a writ (order) issued by a court ordering someo ... t. See also: injunctive relief writ
insanity :: n. mental illness of such a severe nature that a p ... M'Naughten rule temporary insanity
insolvency :: n. 1) the condition of having more debts (liabilit ... the property. See also: bankruptcy
insurance :: n. a contract (insurance policy) in which the insu ... t clause Workers' Compensation Acts
interest :: n. 1) any and all, partial or total right to prope ... nal property real property standing
intestacy :: n. the condition of having died without a valid wi ... e. See also: intestate probate will
joint :: adj., adv. referring to property, rights or obliga ... ncy joint venture tenancy in common
joint and several :: adj. referring to a debt or a judgment for neglige ... ution contributory negligence joint
joint enterprise :: n. a generic term for an activity of two or more p ... liability joint venture partnership
joint liability :: n. when two or more persons are both responsible f ... See also: joinder joint and several
joint tenancy :: n. a crucial relationship in the ownership of real ... ty property tenancy in common title
judge :: 1) n. an official with the authority and responsib ... ice justice of the peace magistrate
judgment creditor :: n. the winning plaintiff in a lawsuit to whom the ... 's rights judgment prevailing party
jump bail :: v. to fail to appear for a court appearance after ... also: bail bail bond bail bondsman
jurisdiction :: n. the authority given by law to a court to try ca ... Superior Court Supreme Court venue
justice :: n. 1) fairness. 2) moral rightness. 3) a scheme or ... e appellate courts. See also: court
juvenile court :: n. a special court or department of a trial court ... See also: court juvenile delinquent
kidnapping :: (also spelled kidnaping) n. the taking of a person ... but now applies to adults as well.
laches :: n. the legal doctrine that a legal right or claim ... , breach of contract, fraud, etc.).
land :: n. real property, real estate (and all that grows ... See also: real estate real property
lapse :: 1) v. to fail to occur, particularly a gift made i ... eficiary devisee legatee trust will
law :: n. 1) any system of regulations to govern the cond ... um maritime law natural law statute
lease :: 1) n. a written agreement in which the owner of pr ... triple net lease unlawful detainer
legatee :: n. a person or organization receiving a gift of an ... eficiary devise devisee legacy will
letters of administration :: n. a document issued by the court clerk which stat ... estate. See also: executor probate
letters testamentary :: n. a document issued by the court clerk which stat ... te. See also: administrator probate
liability :: n. one of the most significant words in the field ... bility joint tortfeasors negligence
libel :: 1) n. to publish in print (including pictures), wr ... libel per se public figure slander
life estate :: n. the right to use or occupy real property for on ... hter, Sadie, will own the property.
lineup :: n. a law enforcement method used in an attempt to ... entification is precarious at best.
lis pendens :: (lease pen-dense) n. Latin for "a suit pending," a ... ob can be penalized by court order.
literary property :: n. the writings of an author which entitles him/he ... as copyrighted. See also: copyright
living will :: n. also called "a durable power of attorney," it i ... upport. See also: power of attorney
long-arm statute :: n. law which gives a local state court jurisdictio ... rt jurisdiction over the defendant.
malpractice :: n. An act or continuing conduct of a professional ... eed. See also: errors and omissions
mandamus :: (man-dame-us) n. Latin for "we order," a writ (mor ... mandamus. See also: writ of mandate
marshal :: 1) n. a federal court official who may serve paper ... tablish priorities among creditors.
merger :: n. 1) in corporate law, the joining together of tw ... and taking one, and wife the other.
minority :: n. 1) in voting, a side with less than half the vo ... See also: legal age majority minor
Miranda warning :: n. the requirement, also called the Miranda rule, ... me such a suspect? See also: rights
negligence :: n. failure to exercise the care toward others whic ... gence per se res ipsa loquitur tort
net estate :: n. the remaining estate of a person who has died, ... alue. See also: estate tax gift tax
no fault insurance :: n: a type of automobile insurance required of car ... ling lawsuits. See also: negligence
nominee :: n. 1) a person or entity who is requested or named ... ic office. See also: agent executor
not guilty :: n. 1) plea of a person who claims not to have comm ... t guilty by reason of insanity plea
notary public :: n. a person authorized by the state in which the p ... he state which appoints the notary.
notice :: n. 1) information, usually in writing in all legal ... Thirty-day notice three-day notice
nunc pro tunc :: (nuhnk proh tuhnk) adj. Latin for "now for then," ... r actuality of a bigamous marriage.
obscene :: adj., adv. a highly subjective reference to materi ... en I see it." See also: pornography
officer of the court :: n. any person who has an obligation to promote jus ... also: attorney bailiff clerk judge
out of court :: adj. referring to actions, including negotiations ... is dismissed. See also: settlement
out-of-pocket expenses :: n. moneys paid directly for necessary items by a c ... amages beyond normal wear and tear.
paid into court :: adj. referring to money deposited with the clerk o ... differences. See also: interpleader
party :: n. 1) one of the participants in a lawsuit or othe ... y real party in interest respondent
police court :: n. in some states a type of municipal court which ... municipal court preliminary hearing
power of attorney :: n. a written document signed by a person giving an ... y, as in a real estate transaction.
precedent :: 1) n. a prior reported opinion of an appeals court ... to perform. See also: stare decisis
privileged communication :: n. statements and conversations made under circums ... See also: attorney-client privilege
privileges and immunities :: n. the fundamental rights that people enjoy in fre ... t impinge on constitutional rights.
probation :: n. a chance to remain free (or serve only a short ... See also: attorney-client privilege
procedure :: n. the methods and mechanics of the legal process. ... cases are tried and judgments made.
process :: n. in law, the legal means by which a person is re ... service of process subpena summons
product liability :: n. the responsibility of manufacturers, distributo ... e known. See also: warrant warranty
promissory note :: n. a written promise by a person (variously called ... lso: interest obligee obligor usury
proof :: n. confirmation of a fact by evidence. In a trial, ... doubt preponderance of the evidence
property damage :: n. injury to real or personal property through ano ... l value. See also: damages property
public record :: n. any information, minutes, files, accounts or ot ... l judgment are both public records.
qui tam action :: : (kwee tam) n. from Latin for "who as well," a la ... technical violations and/or errors.
real party in interest :: n. the person or entity who will benefit from a la ... st is the beneficiary of the trust.
real property :: n. 1) all land, structures, firmly attached and in ... onal property real estate reversion
record :: 1) v. (ree-cored) to put a document into the offic ... eeding race to the courthouse trial
regulations :: n. rules and administrative codes issued by govern ... es usually have similar procedures.
remedy :: n. the means to achieve justice in any matter in w ... gment provisional remedy settlement
reports :: n. the published decisions of appeals courts in al ... ilable in almost all law libraries.
review :: n. the judicial consideration of a lower court jud ... ate court reversal reversible error
rights :: n. 1) plural of right, which is the collection of ... evidence. See also: Miranda warning
robbery :: n. 1) the direct taking of property (including mon ... We've been robbed." See also: theft
rules of court :: n. a set of procedural regulations adopted by cour ... s counsel. See also: procedure rule
sanction :: n. 1) a financial penalty imposed by a judge on a ... ction." See also: contempt of court
search and seizure :: n. examination of a person's premises (residence, ... robable cause search search warrant
search warrant :: n. a written order by a judge which permits a law ... ble cause search search and seizure
sentence :: 1) n. the punishment given to a person convicted o ... ence restitution suspended sentence
service :: n. 1) paid work by another person, either by contr ... ersonal services service of process
service of process :: n. the delivery of copies of legal documents such ... by publication substituted service
session :: n. 1) a meeting (or "sitting") of a court for a pa ... pring Term" or the "October Term").
settlement :: n. the resolution of a lawsuit (or of a legal disp ... ult in settlement. See also: settle
small claims court :: n. a division of most municipal, city or other low ... od example of a small claims court.
sound mind and memory :: n. having an understanding of one's actions and re ... ee also: competent incompetent will
special administrator :: n. a person appointed by the court in a probate pr ... or administrator. See also: probate
special appearance :: n. the representation by an attorney of a person i ... anged. See also: general appearance
spontaneous exclamation :: n. a sudden statement caused by the speaker having ... et hit the girl." See also: hearsay
standing :: n. the right to file a lawsuit or file a petition ... so: actual controversy jurisdiction
statute of limitations :: n. a law which sets the maximum period which one c ... ies. See also: demurrer laches toll
subpena duces tecum :: : (suh-pea-nah dooh-chess-take-uhm or dooh-kess-ta ... ng a court order. See also: witness
summons :: n. a document issued by the court at the time a la ... use service service of process writ
tenancy in common :: n. title to property (usually real property, but i ... on. See also: joint tenancy tenancy
transcript :: n. the written record of all proceedings, includin ... unless transcription is requested.
trust :: n. an entity created to hold assets for the benefi ... testamentary trust trustee trustor
venue :: n. 1) the proper or most convenient location for t ... ion. See also: forum non conveniens
warrant :: 1) n. an order (writ) of a court which directs a l ... e search and seizure search warrant
will :: n. a written document which leaves the estate of t ... will and testament probate testator
will contest :: n. a lawsuit challenging the validity of a will an ... so: in terrorem clause probate will

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Other Law Terms - P

paid into court :: adj. referring to money deposited with the clerk o ... differences. See also: interpleader
pain and suffering :: n. the physical and mental distress suffered from ... l damages special damages suffering
palimony :: n. a substitute for alimony in cases in which the ... the relationship. See also: alimony
pander :: 1) v. to solicit customers for a prostitute. 2) n. ... ons or favors. See also: prostitute
panderer :: n. 1) a person who panders or solicits for a prost ... special interests. See also: pander
panel :: n. the list of people selected to appear for jury ... or jury duty. See also: jury venire
paper hanger :: n. slang for a person who criminally writes and ca ... ey in them. See also: forgery fraud
par :: n. 1) an equal level. 2) the face value of a stock ... common stock preferred stock stock
paralegal :: n. a non-lawyer who performs routine tasks requiri ... h less than that for the attorneys.
paramount title :: n. a right to real property which prevails over an ... n's claim of title. See also: title
parcel :: n. a defined piece of real estate, usually resulti ... See also: real estate real property
pardon :: 1) v. to use the executive power of a Governor or ... also: amnesty commutation reprieve
parens patriae :: (paa-rens pat-tree-eye) n. Latin for "father of hi ... pport custody divorce guardian ward
parent :: n. the lawful and natural father or mother of a pe ... natural parent. See also: adoption
parental neglect :: n. a crime consisting of acts or omissions of a pa ... usive or sexually predatory person.
pari delicto :: adj. equal fault. See also: in pari delicto ... al fault. See also: in pari delicto
parish :: n. 1) a geographic area served by a church (partic ... overnmental equivalent of a county.
parody :: n. the humorous use of an existing song, play, or ... l significance. See also: copyright
parol :: adj. oral. See also: parol evidence rule ... oral. See also: parol evidence rule
parol evidence rule :: n. if there is evidence in writing (such as a sign ... or contradict the written document.