Per Stirpes: A Latin phrase meaning “per branch” is used to describe a way of distributing property according to familial ties. In a per stirpes distribution, each branch of the family receives an equal share of the estate, even if the original heir of one branch is deceased. So, if the person leaving the estate had three offspring, one of whom predeceased her or him, that deceased heir’s children would receive the share that would have been their parent’s.
Personal Representative: A person named in a will and appointed by the court to carry out the terms of the will and to administer the decedent’s estate. A personal representative may also be called an executor if male or an executrix if female.
Power of Attorney: Authorization, by a written document, that one individual may act in another’s place as agent or attorney-in-fact with respect to some or all legal and financial matters. The scope of authority granted is specified in the document and may be limited by statute in some states. A power of attorney terminates on the death of the person granting the power (unless “coupled with an interest”) and may terminate on the subsequent disability of the person granting the power (unless the power is “durable” under the instrument or state law).
Probate: The court supervised process of proving the validity of a will and distributing property under the terms of the will or in accordance with a state’s intestacy law in the absence of a will.
Property: Anything that may be the subject of ownership, whether real or personal, legal or equitable, or any interest.