Glossary

Glossary Terms
  • Administrator: The person appointed by the Probate Court to handle the estate of a decedent who died without a will
  • Administrator with the Will Annexed (Administrator CTA): The person appointed by the Probate Court to handle the estate of a decedent who died with a will if the executor(s) named in the will is/are unable or unwilling to serve
  • Adult: Anyone who is age 18 or over
  • Affidavit: A written statement under oath that is signed by the person making it and is notarized
  • Beneficiary: Someone who is named in the will to receive some benefit under the will
  • Bond: A written agreement that is designed to protect the assets of the estate; a bond is issued by a licensed bonding company, and the cost is payable from the estate
  • Child: A biological or adopted child
    • A stepchild does not meet the legal definition of child; a child born out of wedlock is legally considered the child of the mother and is also usually considered the child of the father for inheritance and other purposes.
  • Codicil: A formal, written amendment or addition to a will that has been executed and witnessed in the same manner as a will
  • Decedent: The individual who has died and whose estate is being administered
  • Descendant: The child, grandchild, great-grandchild, etc., of an individual (also called Lineal Descendant)
  • Domicile: The place where a person lives and intends to remain
  • Estate: The real and personal property that an individual owns at death
  • Executor: The person named in a will to handle the decedent's estate
  • Father: The biological or adoptive father of a child; not a stepfather
    • If the child is born out of wedlock and paternity can be proved, the biological father is also the child's father for inheritance purposes
  • Filing a Will: Anyone who is in possession of a will is required to take it to the Probate Court for filing, even if the will is not going to be probated
  • Forms: The Probate Court has standard forms that must be used for filing petitions, such as a Petition to Probate a Will in Solemn Form (the forms are available at the court or online)
  • Guardian: The person who represents the interests of someone who is legally incapable of representing himself or herself (such as a minor or incapacitated adult); this may be someone who is already the natural guardian (such as a parent) or someone appointed by the court (such as a guardian of the person or property or a guardian ad litem)
  • Guardian ad litem: A person appointed by the Probate Court to represent in a particular legal proceeding the interests of someone who is legally incapable of representing himself or herself (such as a minor or an incapacitated adult)
  • Guardian of the Person: A person appointed to handle another person's day-to-day affairs
  • Guardian of the Property: A person appointed to handle the property of another
  • Heir: A relative of a decedent who is entitled to inherit a share of the decedent's property if there is no will or if the will is found to be invalid
  • Incapacitated Adult: An adult who is not capable of handling his or her own affairs
  • Intestate: To die "intestate" is to die without a valid will
  • Leave to Sell: A personal representative or guardian may need to petition the Probate Court for permission to sell property of the decedent's or ward's estate
  • Letters of Administration: An official document issued to an administrator that shows the administrator has been formally appointed by the court to handle the decedent's property
  • Letters Testamentary: An official document issued to an executor (someone named in the will) that shows the executor has been formally appointed by the court to handle the decedent's property under the terms of the will
  • Majority Status: Age 18 or over
  • Minor: An individual who is under age 18
  • Mother: The biological or adoptive mother of a child, including a child born out of wedlock; not a stepmother
  • Natural Guardians: The parents of a child; if the parents are separated or divorced, the parent who has custody of the child
  • Notarized: To have your signature notarized, you must sign in the presence of a notary public, who then signs the document and affixes a seal
  • Notice: An official notification that a petition has been filed; people who receive notice are given an opportunity to object
  • Oath: Sworn statement by a personal representative that that person will faithfully fulfill his or her responsibilities as an executor, administrator, or guardian
  • Perishable Property: Property of an estate that needs immediate attention or that may deteriorate quickly or is expensive to keep
  • Personal Property: Any property other than land (e.g., car, furniture, money)
  • Personal Service: Notice given through personal delivery by a deputy sheriff or special agent
  • Personal Representative: An executor or administrator of a deceased person's estate
  • Petitioner: The person who files a petition in the court
  • Probate: The process of proving a will so that property may be distributed in accordance with its terms; usually, an executor is appointed at the same time the will is probated
  • Pro se: To act on your own, without the assistance of a lawyer
  • Publication: Notice of an event (such as the filing of a petition) that is given by publication in the county newspaper
  • Real Property: Land
  • Self-Proved Will: A will that has been signed twice by the testator and the witnesses, which includes a sworn, notarized statement attesting to their ages, the testator's being of sound mind, and the circumstances of the signing
  • Service: Notice of an action in the legally required manner, either by publication, first-class mail, certified mail, or personal service (see also Personal Service)
  • Spouse: Husband or wife as the result of a ceremonial marriage; common law marriage is only recognized in Georgia if entered into prior to 1997
  • Sui Juris: An individual is sui juris if age 18 or over and competent to understand the court proceedings
  • Temporary Administrator: An administrator who is appointed for limited purposes if there is a matter that needs immediate attention
  • Testator: An individual who writes a will to tell how his or her property should be distributed at death
  • Unanimous Consent: Complete agreement among everyone entitled to notice, agreeing to the proposed actions as stated in the petition
  • Waive: To give up a right
  • Ward: An individual for whom a guardian of the person or guardian of the property has been appointed
  • Will: The legal document by which an individual tells how his or her property is to be distributed at death
  • Witness: An individual who watched the testator sign the will and then signed the will as a witness

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