Who is involved with an Estate?
- Decedent - the person who has died. Unfortunately, the probate process starts when a person passes away. That person also may be called the "Deceased."
- Heir - a person who will inherit from the Decedent's estate if there is no Will. This usually is the Decedent's spouse and children, but if they aren't alive, then things get pretty complex.
- Beneficiary - a person who will inherit if there is a Will. Sometimes a Beneficiary is also an Heir; but they do not have to be the same person.
- Administrator - the person who administers the estate if there is no Will. In more traditional legal writing, a man was called an Administrator and a woman with the same job was called an Administratrix. But the term Administrator also can refer to either a man or woman.
- Executor - If there is a Will, this is the person who does what the Will says. Again, traditionally, a man was an Executor and a woman was an Executrix. And again, the term Executor can be gender-neutral.
- Personal Representative - the newer, catch-all phrase including both Administrator and Executor. However, because there are important differences between an Administrator and Executor, some people still use those terms instead.
As always, this post is not legal advice. If you have any questions about this information or about what to do when a loved one passes, please contact an attorney.