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Glossary

Administrator
This was the term used in an estate where there is no will. This term is no longer used. See "Personal Representative".

Beneficiary
This is the term used for a person who inherits property under a will or trust. A beneficiary is not necessarily also an heir.

Conservator
The conservator manages the money and property of the ward and must file regular accounts with the probate court. Some States also refer to this person as a guardian.

Executor
This was the term used for the person who was nominated in the will. This term is no longer used. See "Personal Representative".

Guardian
The guardian is the person appointed by the probate court to take care of children who have no suitable parent or of other people who are considered legally incapacitated. You can nominate a guardian for your children in your will. The guardian must report to the court on a regular basis on the condition of the ward.

Heir
An heir is a person who is entitled to inherit property from a person who has died without a will. You do not have any heirs until you are dead, since an heir has to outlive you. See also "beneficiary".

Living Trust
See "Trust".

Living Will
This is a document that notifies your doctors that you do not want to be kept alive with tubes, ventilators, etc. It sets out the conditions when you want the doctors to "pull the plug". In Michigan, this is done by naming a Patient Advocate in a Power of Attorney.

Personal Representative
This is the name given to the person appointed by the Probate Court to supervise the administration of your estate. Michigan no longer uses the terms "executor" or "administrator" and both are now called Personal Representatives. The law sets up a list of people who are entitled to priority for appointment. The first priority is the person named in your will. The court has a great deal of discretion over who will be appointed, and if the heirs are fighting with each other or there is no person the court considers suitable, the court can appoint an attorney who is a Public Administrator.

Probate
Probate is the process where a Probate Judge supervises the estate of a person who has died. The process is started with a Petition which is filed by an heir or creditor. The court appoints a Personal Representative who is in charge of administering the estate. The Personal Representative publishes a notice in the newspaper, pays all your bills and then distributes anything that is left to the heirs or beneficiaries. The whole process is public and anyone can look at the court file. Some courts even post the court documents on the internet. The process takes at least six months and there are fees paid to the court which could be avoided with a trust.

Quick Claim Deed
See "Quit Claim Deed".

Quit Claim Deed
This is often incorrectly called a "quick deed" or "quick claim deed". This type of deed is commonly used when no money changes hands, such as adding the name of a son or daughter to the title of your house. It is not quicker or cheaper to prepare than a "warranty deed". It simply means that you are not giving any warranties that you have good title to the property being transferred.

Trust
If you want to avoid probate, a trust is the best way to do this. A trust is created by a written Trust Agreement, which looks much like a will. You transfer everything you own to a Trustee, who is normally you, and the Trustee manages your property the same way as you have always done. At your death or disability, you have made arrangements to appoint a Successor Trustee, who just steps into your shoes with no probate court involvement. This is often called a "living trust" because, unlike a will, it is created and funded while you are still alive.

Ward
Ward is the name given to a person who has a court appointed guardian or conservator. A ward is either a child under the age of 18 or an adult who is considered legally incapacitated.

Warranty Deed
This is the usual deed used when property is bought or sold for money or something of value. Certain warranties are given, including a promise that the seller has clear title and has the authority to make the transfer.

Will
A will is a set of written instructions as to how you want your estate managed and distributed after your death. A will is not registered or filed anywhere and can be changed at any time. Your heirs have no legally enforceable right to your property until after you have died and the will has been admitted to probate. A will does not avoid probate.


 
 
 
 
 
Dinning & Greve
Located in Roseville, Dinning & Greves, P.L.C., represents clients throughout Michigan, in cities including:
Eastpointe, St. Clair Shores, Warren, Sterling Heights, Clinton, Harrison, Macomb, Shelby and Washington Townships.
Our firm also represents clients in Oakland County, Wayne County, and Macomb County.


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