Selected Terms in Probate Law

Mediæval Dictionary: A Selective Glossary of Terms of Probate Law

  • Will: a will is a document of binding force, revocable (or ‘ambulatory’) until the testator’s death, then irrevocable. It disposes (or ‘devises’) a person’s real propery, (the realty), lands, houses, etc. See Real Property in the Mediæval Dictionary in Back to Basics VIII.
  • Testament: this is the document leaving personal property (the personalty), such as books, tools, animals, etc. Usually made at the same time as, or combined with, the will.
  • Capacity: to make a will or a testament boys had to be over 14; girls over 12. A person had to be of full mental capacity and to have the full intention of making a will. Women (unless with the permission of their husbands) had to be unmarried or widowed. A felon, an outlaw, or a traitor could not make a will; their property was forfeit to the crown.
  • Probate: the official proving of a will, receiving probate is evidence that a document has been received by a court as the last will and testament. Wills were proved in ecclesiastical courts.
  • Executor: a person appointed by the testator to testatrix to obtain probate and carry out the provisions of a will.
  • Administrator: if no executor is appointed by a will, an administrator was appointed by the court. — MO’R