When talking about the probate process, there are a number of commonly used terms which you may hear that your Florida probate lawyer wants you to fully understand. If you don’t already understand what these terms mean, it’s time you did so that the probate process can be moved along quickly and smoothly. That’s why today we are covering a few of those more important terms here on the Weidner Law blog.

Important Probate Terms Your Florida Probate Lawyer Wants You to Know


Agent: The term “agent” may also be referred to as an “attorney-in-fact” and is the person who is given the power of attorney over the affairs of another. The important thing to know about being an “attorney-in-fact” is that when the individual who named an agent dies, they are no longer permitted to conduct any of the named duties of an agent.

Beneficiary Deed: A beneficiary deed is a revocable deed that designates who will receive your real estate upon your death. Using a beneficiary deed will allow for the avoidance of the probate process.

Codicil:  The word codicil is used to refer to an amendment made to your will. If you make an amendment to your will, be sure to follow the proper process as explained by your attorney.

Community property:  The term “community property” is used to refer to assets that, for the most part, have been obtained during a marriage whilst living in a state of community property.

Conservatorship: A conservatorship is a court proceeding where a judge names specific people or an organization (known as the conservator) to be the one to take over the financial matters of a person who has become unable to do so for themselves due to incapacitation.

Estate administration:  Estate administration is the process of determining what happens to an individual’s assets after the person who owns that estate dies. The last will an testament is the document by which estates are administrated as they state the explicit wishes of the deceased.

Estate tax: An estate tax is a tax on the assets that are given to beneficiaries after the assets are distributed to others. The state of Florida has no estate tax, however, but recipients of assets may have to pay a Federal estate tax.

Executor:  The executor of a will is the individual that is approved by a judge to manage probate estates, to pay any outstanding debts of the deceased, and to distribute the assets of the estate. The executor may also be referred to as the administrator or the personal representative.

Gift tax: This is a tax on gifts that are given while the deceased was still alive. While the state of Florida has no gift tax, there is a federal gift tax. No gift tax is assessed, however, until the gift giver has reached their lifetime gift tax exemption limit.

Grantor: This term refers to the person who creates and signs a trust, they may also be referred to as a “settlor” or “trustor”.

Guardianship: There are multiple meanings attached to this word, however, when talking about probate, it is generally referring to a court proceeding where the judge appoints an individual to handle the affairs (personal and medical) of someone who is incapacitated.

Holographic will:  A holographic will is a will where all of the material provisions are written in the testator’s handwriting.

Intestate: When someone dies without having a valid will in place they are referred to as being intestate. This causes problems because there is no official document which determines who will receive which assets from their estate.

Life estate deed:  A life estate deed is an irrevocable deed that transfers the remainder of an individual’s real estate upon owner’s death.  This avoids the probate process.

Living Trust:  A living trust is an official document that is used to transfer someone’s assets at the time of their death and is generally made to avoid the probate process.

Pour-over will:  A pour-over will is a simplified will that states that any probate estate assets should transfer at death to trust ownership, this is generally used with a living trust.

Power of attorney for financial and property matters:  This is a power of attorney document in which one or more agents are named to manage only financial and property affairs for you.

Power of attorney for medical care:  This is a power of attorney document in which one or more agents are designated to make medical care and treatment decisions on your behalf when you are unable to do so for yourself.

Principal:  The principal is the person who signs a power of attorney giving power of attorney to another person who is referred to as the agent.

Probate:  The term probate refers to the court proceeding that takes place to pass the estate of a deceased person to his or her heirs based on a legal last will and testament.

Probate Avoider:  When someone refers to a “probate avoider” they are referring to some type of arrangement -for example, a revocable trust – that is used during the lifetime of the grantor to remove an asset from their estate assets and avoid it being included in the probate process.

Testator:  The testator is the individual who creates and signs a will.  Every state has specific requirements for what steps must be taken to ensure that a last will and testament is considered valid and it’s crucial that each individual follow the state requirements to a tee. Failure to comply with state requirements may lead to the last will and testament being challenged or disregarded completely.

Trustee:  The individual who is named to be in charge of a trust.

Will:  Also known as a last will and testament, this is an estate planning document which names the executor of an estate as well as the beneficiaries of an estate following the death of the will’s author. 

Looking For a Reputable Florida Probate Lawyer?

If you’re in the St. Petes area and in need of a professional and reputable Florida probate lawyer, Weidner Law Firm can come to your aid! Just pick up the phone and give us a call at 727-954-8752 to see how we can help you with your estate management and planning needs.

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