Trusts, Estates, and Surrogate's Court Legal Glossary

Daniel R. Antonelli
Representing trust and estate matters with an emphasis on estate litigation in the New York City Metro area.

Legal terms used in Surrogate's Court, defined in plain English

Administrator

The court appointed representative of an estate where the decedent died with no last will and testament; synonyms include fiduciary and representative; similar to Executor

Beneficiary 

A person entitled to benefit from an estate, typically named in a last will and testament or trust; sometimes used synonymously with Distributee

Decedent 

The person who died

Distributee 

A person who would inherit from a decedent's estate if the decedent died with no last will and testament; also known as an Heir

Estate

An ownership interest; the definition varies depending on the context; examples include real estate, trust estate, and probate estate

Executor

The court appointed representative of an estate where the decedent died with a last will and testament; similar to Administrator

Fiduciary

A general term referring to a person acting on behalf of another (the principal) where the person acting is obligated to act in the best interest of the principal; examples of fiduciaries are Administrators, Executors, and Trustees

Heir

A person who would inherit from a decedent's estate if the decedent died with no last will and testament; also known as a Distributee

Intestacy

When a person dies without leaving a last will and testament; such person is said to have died 'intestate'

Last will and testament 

A legal document that lists a person's wishes about what will happen to his or her property after death 

Proponent

A party who puts forth a document as valid; one who petitions to probate a last will 

Surrogate's Court 

A specialized court that deals with probate of wills, administration of estates, certain guardianships, and certain adoptions; also known as 'probate court'

Testacy

When a person dies with a last will and testament; such person is said to have died 'testate'

Testator

One who makes and executes a last will and testament

Trustee

One who acts on behalf of a trust

Do You Need Legal Help Regarding Probate Issues In The New York Metro Area?

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