Brian Ripp Legacy Real Estate & Associates Agent

Brian Ripp

CRS, GRI CalBRE #00886348
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Probate Glossary


Administrator: If there is no will, or if an executor is not named in the will, then the court must appoint someone to handle the estate. This is the Administrator.

Advice of Proposed Action: This document is sent certified mail notifying the heirs that the decedent’s home is being sold. They in return need to notify the attorney if they object at which time a petition may be filed with the court for confirmation.

Assets: The estate’s property, including but not limited to bank accounts, real estate, stocks, bonds, cars, furniture, jewelry, and other personal belongings. Income is not considered to be an asset. 

Bond: A bond is not always required. A surety company who guarantees that if the executor mismanages; there will be no loss to the decedent’s estate issues it. 

Conservatee: A person whom a judge has decided is unable to care for himself or herself or to manage his or her own financial affairs, and for whom a conservator has been appointed.

Conservator: A person or organization appointed by a judge to arrange for a conservatees personal care, to mange the conservatee’s finances, or both.

Conservator of the estate: Manages the financial affairs of the conservatee.

Conservator of the person: A person that arranges for personal care and protection of the conservatee.

Conservatorship Estate: The conservatee’s income and assets 

Court Confirmation: Going to court to confirm the sale of the real property allows additional buyers, if any, to overbid the accepted offer. The judge will ask if anyone in the room would like to make an overbid. A formula is used to determine the minimum overbid. Successful over-bidders need to provide10% cashiers-check check made out to the estate or Title Company on the spot.

Court investigator: This person works with the probate court. The court investigator helps the judge make decisions in conservatorship cases by visiting and speaking with people involved.

Decedent: The deceased person, in this case, to whom the probate refers.

Estate: All assets owned, real and personal property left by decedent.

Executor: The executor is the person named in the decedent’s Will to administer the estate. 

Fiduciary: A person holding a position of trust; executors, administrators, agents, attorneys, and trustees.

Independent Administration of Estates Act (IAEA): The IAEA was enacted to allow personal representatives of probate estates to handle appropriate routine actions, such as sales of real and personal property, without court approval. While court supervision is not required for certain acts under the IAEA, the executor/administrator is required to notify anyone who would be affected by an independent action by providing them with an “Advice of Proposed Action” no less than 15 days prior to taking the action.

Intestate: Not leaving a valid will upon death. 

Inventory and Appraisal: A detailed listing of all property owned by the decedent, both real and personal, and specification of all debts owed by the decedent, both real and personal, as much as they are known to the executor/administrator. The executor/administrator is responsible for appraising the fair market value of currency, deposits with financial institutions, proceeds from insurance policies and lump-sum payments from retirement plans which are payable upon death. A court-appointed Probate Referee appraises all other property, unless the executor/administrator seeks and the court waives such appointment. 

Issuance Of Letters: After the executor or administrator has taken his or her oath and has given the bond, if required, the Clerk of the Court (under the seal of the court) will issue Letters Testamentary or Letters of Administration. These “letters” are the evidence of the executor/administrator’s qualification and authority to act in his/her representative capacity.

Letters of Administration: Written authority by a court giving permission to administer.

Letters Testamentary: Letters issued by a court empowering an executor of a will to act.

Local court rules: A county court’s specific instructions and requirements. These rules are in addition to state laws called “codes” and state court rules called the California Rules of Court.

Notice To Creditors: Publication of the “Petition for Letters” in a newspaper of general circulation constitutes notice to creditors of the decedent. Within four months from the issuance of Letters Testamentary or Letters of Administration, all persons making claims against the decedent are required to submit them to the office of the Clerk of the Court, the executor or the administrator.

Petition: A formal, written request filed with a court, asking a judge to make a particular decision. For example, a petition may ask the court to confirm the sale of real estate. Otherwise known as “court confirmation”.

Power of Sale: The significance of the “Power of Sale” contained in the will is that the executor/administrator can proceed to sell property without giving notice (publication) and does not have to show the court the necessity for the sale or its benefit or advantage to the estate. However, an “Advise of Proposed Action” will be necessary. 

Probate: The legal process through which a court of law makes sure that when a person dies their debts are paid and their properties are distributed according to the will. It is not always necessary to have probate occur. A property can be transferred by joint tenancy or as a community property, for instance. If a person does not have a Will, then the estate will be probated according to probate laws of the state.

Probate court: The department of each county’s superior court that deals with probate conservatorships, guardianships, and the estates of people who have died.

Probate referee: A professional who is appointed by a judge to appraise the value of the estate’s non-cash assets listed on the inventory.

Testate: Leaving a will upon death.

Testator: Commonly known as the will writer. 

Trustee: A trust is a way of owning assets. The trustee-a person or institution (such as a bank)-manages the assets for the benefit of someone else, perhaps the conservator.



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