Probate has a language of it's own.

Here are some important probate terms you’ll want to know:
  • Beneficiary: A person who inherits when there is a Will.
  • Custodian of the Will: The person who has the Will when the person who wrote the Will dies.
  • Decedent (or deceased): The person who died.
  • Decedent’s estate: All the property (real or personal) that a person owned at the time of death.
  • Executor: A person named in a Will and appointed by the Court to carry out the dead person’s wishes.
  • Heir: A person who inherits when there is no Will.
  • Intestate: When someone dies without leaving a Will.
  • Intestate succession: The order of who inherits the property when someone dies without a Will.
  • Legatees, or devisees: People who are named in a Will.
  • Personal property: Things like cash, stocks, jewelry, clothing, furniture, or cars.
  • Personal representative (or administrator or executor): The person responsible for overseeing the distribution of the estate.
  • Probate: The process of deciding where, how, and to whom to distribute the decedent’s property.
  • Real property: Buildings and land.
  • Testate: When someone dies leaving a Will.
  • Trust: When one person (trustee) holds property at another person’s (settlor’s) request for the benefit of someone else (the beneficiary).
  • Will: A legal paper that lists a person’s wishes about what will happen to his/her property after death.


Probate is handled in the California Superior Court. It is the orderly transfer of a deceased person's assets. This process proves the validity of the will, inventorying and appraising the estate property, paying any debts or taxes, and distributing the property to the beneficiaries entitled to them.
To better understand this process, Kathy Stoltman has prepared complimentary reports that explains your responsibilities as the Personal Representative and a timeline that depicts the choreographed steps of probate.
Download reports →

Get in touch to handle this private family matter in the most compassionate and efficient manner.