Some Definitions
Administration of the Estate
(Also called “settling the estate”) Administration of the Estate is the process of
collecting the decedent’s assets, paying debts and taxes, distributing the balance of
the assets and all of the procedures associated with these processes.

Agent/Attorney-in-Fact
The agent/attorney-in-fact is the person who is granted the authority to act on the
principal’s behalf.  

Competent
A person who is competent meets a certain minimum requirement of soundness of
mind and ability.

Distributee  
The distributee is the person to whom a distribution of the estate is due.  The term
used to refer to the distributee depends on whether the deceased individual whose
estate is being probated died with a will or died intestate (without a will).  If the
decedent died with a will, the distributee is known as an heir or beneficiary, if he or
she died intestate, the distributee is known as the heir-at-law.  For our purposes, we
will use the terms heir and beneficiary to encompass both intestate and testate
estates.

Durable Power of Attorney
A durable Power of Attorney is effective even in the event that the principal
becomes incapacitated.

Incapacitated
A person who is incapacitated is unable to act on his or her own behalf.  

Personal Representative  
The personal representative is the person who is appointed by the court to
administer (managing, settling, and distributing) the decedent’s estate.  The specific
term used to refer to the representative (such as “executor” and “administrator”) is
dependent on whether the decedent had a will.  

Petition
A petition is a formal request, in the form of a legal document, to the court that
begins court proceedings.

Power of Attorney
A Power of Attorney is a written document in which an individual grants another
individual the authority to act on his or her behalf.  

Principal
The principal is the person who grants authority to another person to act on the
principal’s behalf.  The principal executes (signs/creates) the power of attorney.  

Probate
Probate is a formal court-supervised proceeding that involves managing, settling,
and distributing the estate of a decedent (
i.e., the individual who has died).  
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