Earlier this week we wrote a blog about some common Florida probate terms you should know if you are starting the estate planning process or facing a probate situation. This week we are going to expand on that list to talk about some additional Florida probate terms with which you should be familiar. Understanding not only what these terms mean, but how they might affect you, your family, and your estate, will allow you to be much more comfortable with the probate and estate planning processes. So, here are a few more Florida probate terms you’ll want to review.
More Florida Probate Terms
- Petitioner. Documents submitted to a court that ask it to take an action are known as petitions, so a petitioner is anyone who asks a court, usually in writing, to take a specific action. Petitioners in probate cases can ask for a wide range of court actions such as naming an executor of an estate, removing an unfit executor, asking the court to rule on the validity of a last will and testament, or naming a guardian for an incapacitated adult.
- Respondent. A respondent is the person(s) named in a petition. For example, if you want to petition a Florida probate court to name you as guardian over your incapacitated grandmother, your grandmother will be the respondent.
- Legatee. Though rarely used today, a legatee is any person(s) or organization(s) who receives a gift of money from an estate through a last will and testament. More generally, it refers to anyone who receives a gift from an estate.
- Devisee. A devisee is a person(s) or organization(s) who receives a gift or real property from an estate.
- Beneficiary. A beneficiary is an umbrella term that refers to anyone who receives property from an estate or a trust, regardless of what kind of property it is. This term has largely replaced the legatee/devisee terminology.
- Heirs. An heir is someone who is entitled to inherit from someone else. Though many people outside of the law use this term, it isn’t one that is often used in probate and estate planning circles. Essentially, heirs are determined by state inheritance laws, known as laws of intestacy. Should a decedent die intestate (without leaving behind a valid last will and testament) the intestacy laws determine who inherits.
- Testators and Testatrixes. A person who makes a will is known as either a testator or a testatrix. Traditionally, “testator” referred to men, while “testatrix” referred to women. Today, “testator” is often used as a gender-neutral term to refer to anyone who wrote a will.