Glossary of terms

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Has has several meanings.   It can mean to die without a Will or it can refer the management and settlement of an estate.   The fiduciary, being a duly qualified and legally appointed person, collects the decedent’s assets, satisfies the debts and claims against the decedent and his estate and distributes the remaining assets of the asset among those entitled to commonly known as heirs or beneficiaries.

Ancillary Administration

A special proceeding subsequent to the primary proceeding. When a decedent owns property in another state other than his home state this proceeding is necessary for transfer of the assets.

Beneficiary of the Estate

The heir and named person in the Will or Trust that inherits all or part of the Estate.

Estate Beneficiary Rights

The rights that one has as a beneficiary or heir to an estate including but not limited to an accounting of the assets and distribution.

Estate Legal Fees

Generally is the legal fees that the estate is responsible for paying.  The fiduciary is entitled to legal representation and advice thus the estate pays for that service.

Estate Process

A term used to refer to the procedure that takes place to admit a Will to probate appointing a fiduciary and if there is no Will, the procedure that takes place to appoint a fiduciary to represent and take charge of the Estate.  This process takes place before the appropriate Court, which in New York is the Surrogate’s Court of the County in which the decedent was a resident of at the time of death.    It can mean other stages of the administration of the Estate as well.

Inheritance Attorney

A label or another name for an attorney who represents beneficiaries or heirs of Estates and Trust matters.


To die without a Will, the law in the state in which you are a resident will determine who inherits your estate.

Health Care Proxy

A legal document that appoints an agent to make health care decisions for one when that person is unable to communicate or make those decisions.

Holographic Wills

Which are handwritten wills are not admissible in New York State, with one exception.Only active members of the Armed Forces may prepare such wills if they are on active duty in a combat zone.These Wills are only valid for a limited time, to allow Armed Forces members time to execute standard Wills after they return home from combat.

Letters of Administration

Court issued document that appoints the person the Court has approved to be the fiduciary of the Estate. Such a document usually has a raised seal from the Court and expires on a certain date.

Letters Testamentary

Court issued document that appoints the person the Court has approved to be the fiduciary of the Estate pursuant to the admission of the Will. Such a document usually has a raised seal from the Court and expires on a certain date.

Living Will

Is a legal document executed by one evidencing what he or she wants and does not want done to his or her body during their life in regards to medical treatment.


Is a term used in many ways. Probate means generally that the Last Will and Testament is presented to the Court to determine if the Will is valid and meets all the requirements of the law and if it does, it is admitted for “probate.”    Probate can be used to mean that the estate is being probated or administered.


A document executed according to the requirements of the applicable law which states what you want done with your assets when you die.

Contact the Law Office of Bonnie Lawston

If you have not put an effective plan in place for the orderly distribution of assets upon death, we can help. Contact Long Island estate litigation attorney Bonnie Lawston online [link to Contact Us page] or call our office at 631-425-7299, 24/7 to set up a free initial consultation.

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Bonnie Lawston dedicates her practice to making the job of the Executor, Administrator, Trustee and Probate or Administration process easy for you. Whether you are a fiduciary, beneficiary or heir, we can help you, protect your interests and maximize your inheritance. The firm has represented individuals throughout the United States and in New York, throughout long island including but not limited to Huntington, Melville, Syosset, Sag Harbor, Garden City, Mineola, Bayshore, Dix Hills, Oyster Bay, Belle Terre, East Norwich, Muttontown, Cold Spring Harbor, Huntington Bay, Lloyd Harbor, Pt. Jefferson, Pt. Washington, Glen Head, Glen Cove, Bayville, South Hampton, Hampton Bays, to name a few, in matters dealing with Estate and Probate administration. For more information, contact Law Office of Bonnie Lawston at (631)425-7299 for a free consultation.