Legal Probate Terms


A will or Last Will and Testament is a document with which a person may dispose of his property at his death.

A Codicil is a document which amends or changes a Will.

An Invalid Will is a document which as a matter of law, is not effective to dispose of the property of a dead person (a decedent).

The Execution of a Will is the signing of a Will in the manner proscribed by law. For example, New Jersey requires a Will to be executed (signed) in the presence of two witnesses.

The Probate of a Will is the process of filing a Will with the Surrogate and providing to the Surrogate evidence that the Will was signed by the decedent with all the formalities required by law, and that the decedent signed of his own free will and understood what he was doing.

A Testator is a person who made a Will (Female-Testatrix). To die Testate is to die with a Will.

Letters Testamentary is a document issued by a court naming the person who is to carry out the terms of the Will.

An Executor (female-executrix) is the person named in a Will to carry out it’s provisions.

An Administrator (female-Administratrix) is the person designated by a court to carry out the terms of the Will, where the Will fails to name an Executor, or the Executor is unable to act as such. Also, it is the person appointed by a court to take charge of the estate of an intestate decedent.