Decedent: This is the legal term for the person who has died and whose estate is in the probate process.
Will: This is the legal document in which a decedent has outlined how he or she would like assets distributed among their loved ones.
Estate: An estate consists of all the decedent’s assets. These include, but aren’t limited to, cash, stocks, bonds, real estate holdings (homes, land, etc.), life insurance policies, retirement accounts, vehicles and personal belongings.
Beneficiaries: These are the loved ones named in a will, or determined by the court if there is no will, who will receive assets from the decedent’s estate.
Executor: When a person dies with a valid will in place, the document typically names a person to serve as Executor of the Estate. The chief duties of the Executor will be to inventory and itemization of the decedent’s assets; pay debts of the estate; pay taxes of the estate; file lawsuits for claims owed to the estate; and distribute assets from the estate to the beneficiaries as named in the decedent’s Last Will and Testament.
Administrator: When the decedent has passed on without leaving a valid will and no Executor has been named, Texas law requires that an administrator be named to carry out the duties of an Executor.
Letters Testamentary: Letter from the Court that is proof that the executor has the authority to act on behalf of the estate.
Letters of Administration: Letter from the Court that is proof that the administrator has the authority to act on behalf of the estate.