Probate: 469.708.6050

Wills & Guardianship: 214.227.6400

9400 N. Central Expy., Ste. 1630

Dallas, Texas 75231

Legal Definitions

Will — A legal document written to ensure that upon your death, your assets are given to the people that you specify. A will can be a testamentary instrument which merely: (1) appoints an executor or guardian; (2) directs how property may not be disposed of; or (3) revokes another will. In Texas, a will must be fully in the handwriting of the decedent or it must be signed by the testator and witnessed by two persons.

Testator or Testatrix — The person executing a will.

Devise — When used as a noun, includes a testamentary disposition of real or personal property, or of both. When used as a verb, “devise” means to dispose of real or personal property, or of both, by will.

Probate — The legal process that transfers title of property from the estate of a person who has died to his or her heirs.

Estate — The real and personal property of a decedent remaining after his or her death.

Interested persons — The heirs, devisees, spouses, creditors, or any others having a property right in, or claim against, the estate being administered; and anyone interested in the welfare of a minor or incompetent ward. Only an interested person can initiate a probate case.

Heirs — Those persons, including the surviving spouse, who are entitled under the statutes of descent and distribution to the estate of a decedent who dies intestate.

Distributee — A person entitled to the estate of a decedent under a lawful will, or under the statutes of descent and distribution.

Personal representative — The executor, independent executor, administrator, independent administrator, temporary administrator, together with their successors.

Independent executor — The personal representative of an estate under independent administration as provided in Section 145 of this Code. The term “independent executor” includes the term “independent administrator.”

Guardianship — The legal process by which a court determines that an adult is incapable of making decisions and appoints a Guardian to make those decisions for him or her.

Incapacitated or Incapacitated person — (1) a minor; (2) an adult individual who, because of a physical or mental condition, is substantially unable to provide food, clothing, or shelter for himself or herself, to care for the individual’s own physical health, or to manage the individual’s own financial affairs; or (3) a person who must have a guardian appointed to receive funds due the person from any governmental source.

Ward — A person for whom a guardian has been appointed.