Probate Terms

Accountings – The annual and final financial reports showing receipts and disbursements with date and purpose.


Application – a written request to the probate court for an order or statement of informal probate or appointment.


Claims - liabilities of the decedent or protected person whether arising in contract, in tort, or otherwise, and liabilities of the estate which arise at or after the death of the decedent or after the appointment of a conservator, including funeral expenses and expenses of administration. The term does not include estate or inheritance taxes, or demands or disputes regarding title of a decedent or protected person to specific assets alleged to be included in the estate.

Conservator – One who has the legal authority and duty to care for another person’s property and finances.


Decedent – a deceased person.

Devise -when used as a noun, means a testamentary disposition of real or personal property, including both devise and bequest as formerly used, and when used as a verb, means to dispose of real or personal property by will.

Devisee – a person who receives property by a will.

Estate - includes the property of the decedent, trust, or other person whose affairs are subject to this Code as originally constituted and as it exists from time to time during administration

Fair Market Value – is the price that property would sell for on the open market that would be agreed on between a willing buyer and a willing seller, with neither being required to act, and both having a reasonable knowledge of the relevant facts.

Fiduciary – a person who acts for the benefit of another person.


Guardian – One who has the legal authority and duty to care for a person.


Heir – A person who, under the laws of intestacy, is entitled to receive an intestate decedent’s property.


Interested Person – includes heirs, devisees, children, spouses, creditors, beneficiaries, and any others having a property right in or claim against the estate of a decedent.


Issue of a Person - means all his lineal descendants whether natural or adoptive of all generations, with the relationship of parent and child at each generation being determined by the definitions of child and parent contained in the Probate Code


Minor - means a person who is under eighteen years of age, excluding a person under the age of eighteen who is married or emancipated as decreed by the family court

Personal Representative – a person who manages the legal affairs of another because of death

Petition - means a complaint as defined in the rules of civil procedure adopted for the circuit court. A petition requires a summons and is governed by and subject to the rules of civil procedure adopted for the circuit court and other rules of procedure in this title.

Probate Estate – is the decedent's property passing under the decedent's will plus the decedent's property passing by intestacy.

Successors – means those persons, other than creditors, who are entitled to property of a decedent under his will or the Probate Code.

Testator – a person who has made a legally valid will before death.

Testatrix – a female testator.

Ward - is as defined in § 62-5-101 (4) which states a "ward" is a person for whom a guardian has been appointed.

Will – a document by which a person directs his or her estate to be distributed upon his or her death.