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Key Probate Terms
Acquisition: Purchasing or acquiring an asset 

Administrator: A person appointed by the Clerk to settle the estate of a decedent who left no valid will 

Administrator, c.t.a.: Administrator, cum testaments annex, that is, with the will annexed; appointed when there is a will, when the named executor fails to qualify, or when the will named no executor 

Administrator, d.b.n.: Administrator de bonis non (concerning goods not already administered); appointed when the qualified administrator has failed to complete the probate of the estate 

Administrator, d.b.n.c.t.a.: Successor administrator appointed to administer the un-administered estate with the will annexed 

Appreciation: The increase in value of an asset 

Beneficiary: A person or organization entitled to receive a portion of the estate 

Bequest: A gift of personal property under a will 

Bond: A written document in which the obligor (the personal representative) formally recognizes an obligation to pay money in the event the obligor does not properly perform his/her duties 

Certificate of Qualification:  Sometimes referred to as "letters testamentary," the document received from the Probate Clerk at the time of qualification which states that a person has qualified as an executor or administrator, and has the legal authority to act as such 

Certified Copy: Copy of a document or record signed and certified as a true copy by the officer (Clerk) to whose custody the original is entrusted 

Chronologically: Order of occurrence 

Claim: Any demand held or asserted as a right 

Codicil: A supplement or addition to a last will and testament 

Commingled: To blend or combine funds or properties into a common account 

Commissioner of Accounts: The court-appointed attorney who has the legal responsibility to oversee the actions of a personal representative of an estate to ensure that they preserve the estate assets and perform their duties as required by law 

Creditor: Person or organization owed money by the decedent 

Decedent: The deceased person 

Devise: A gift of real property by the last will and testament of the donor 

Devisee: The person to whom lands or other real properties are devised or given by a last will and testament 

Disclaimer: A legal writing renouncing or relinquishing any legal claim to an estate 

Estate: The decedent’s property, real and personal, and all other assets owned or controlled by a decedent at the time of his/her death 

Executor: The person named in the decedent’s will to administer the estate who accepts appointment by qualifying before the Clerk 

Fiduciary:  A person in a position of trust with respect to another's property; a general term used to refer to executor, administrator, trustee, or personal representative. 

Gross Sales Price: The total price paid for an asset before deducting any expenses associated with sale 

Heir/Heir at Law: A person who would inherit the decedent’s estate if the decedent died without a will 

Holographic Will: Will written entirely by the testator with his/her own hand 

In-kind Distribution: Distribution of assets such as personal property, specific bequest items, securities, etc. 

Insolvent: The condition of being unable to pay debts of an estate with the assets of the estate 

Intestate Estate:  A person who dies without a will 

Intestate Succession: A designation by Virginia statutes of the order in which family members are in line to inherit property from a decedent who dies intestate 

Inventory:  A detailed list of articles; a list or schedule of property, containing a designation or description of each specific article 

Joint Tenancy: If two or more parties acquire the same estate, at the same time, by the same title or source of ownership, each having the same degree of interest as the others and each having the same right of possession, the estate is called a joint estate or joint tenancy 

Lawsuit: A general term for an action, cause, suit, or controversy, at law or in equity 

Legatee: A person who may inherit property under a will; a more technical name for a beneficiary 

Liability:  A legal responsibility, obligation, or debt 

Misappropriate: Dealing fraudulently with property entrusted to others 

Personal Representative:  Another term used for an executor, administrator, trustee, and fiduciary 

Probate: Procedure whereby a will is admitted to record in the Clerk’s office; also used to include the process of qualifying a person as a personal representative of an estate. It sometimes is referred to as the entire process of administering an estate. 

Property (Intangible): Property that has no intrinsic and marketable value but is merely evidence of value, such as certificates of stock, bonds, promissory notes, and franchises

Property (Tangible):  Property that can be felt or touched, such as personal effects, household furnishings, vehicles, boats, etc. 

Property (Personal): Everything the subject of ownership not coming under denomination of real estate 

Property (Real): Land and generally whatever is erected or growing upon or affixed to land. All other property is personal property 

Qualification:  Procedure whereby a person is formally qualified by the Clerk to serve as a personal representative of an estate 

Resident Agent: Person in a jurisdiction authorized to accept service of process for another 

Residuary Estate:  That which remains after debts and expenses of administration, legacies and devises have been satisfied 

Self-Proved Will: A will that includes a notarized affidavit of the testator and attesting witnesses. See Virginia Code §64.2-452 §64.2-453, as amended, for specific language.

Signature: The act of putting one’s name at the end of an instrument to attest to its validity 

Summons: A notice than an action has been commenced and requiring him/her to appear before the Commissioner of Accounts or before the judge to answer a complaint 

Surety: One who undertakes to pay money or to do any other act in event that the personal representative fails to perform his/her duties 

Survivorship:  A term used when a person becomes entitled to property by reason of his/her having survived another person who has an interest in the property 

Testamentary: Pertaining to a will or the administration of a will 

Testate: Dying with a will 

Testator: Person who makes a will 

Trust: The right of property, real or personal, held by one party for the benefit of another 

Value (Carrying Value):  The price of property as of the date of death or date of acquisition 

Value (Market Value): The price at which property would change hands between a willing buyer and a willing seller in the retail market, with neither being under compulsion to buy or to sell and both having reasonable knowledge of relevant facts 

Waive: To give up a right or claim voluntarily 

Will:  A document that gives instructions on how a person wants his/her property distributed after death 

Contact UsBill Loy
Probate Manager 

Lorrie Gordon 
Sr. Probate Specialist 

Joy Hayes
Probate Specialist 

Fax: 703-737-8096 

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Hours of Operation
Monday - Friday
8:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
By appointment only
Physical Address:
Clerk of the Circuit Court
Attn: Probate Division
18 East Market St.
Leesburg, VA 20176
Mailing Address:
Clerk of the Circuit Court
Attn: Probate Division
P.O. Box 550
Leesburg, VA 20178

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