Probate Glossary

The Probate Code has its own language. Here is a brief definition of some of those terms used in this site and in the Probate Code.

Administrator: Any person appointed by the court to administer an intestate (no will) estate.

Bequeath: Includes the word "devise" when used as verb.

Bequest: Includes the word "devise" when used as noun.

Charges: Includes costs of administration, funeral expense, cost of monument, and federal estate taxes.

Child: Includes an adopted child but does not include a grandchild or other more remote descendants, nor, except as provided in sections 633.221 and 633.222, a biological child.

Clerk: " Clerk of the District Court" in the county in which the matter is pending and includes the term " Clerk of the Probate Court".

Conservator: A person appointed by the court to have the custody and control of the property of a ward under the provisions of this probate code.

Costs of administration: Includes court costs, fiduciary's fees, attorney fees, all appraisers' fees, premiums on corporate surety bonds, statutory allowance for support of surviving spouse and children, cost of continuation of abstracts of title, recording fees, transfer fees, transfer taxes, agents' fees allowed by order of court, interest expense, including, but not limited to, interest payable on extension of federal estate tax, and all other fees and expenses allowed by order of court in connection with the administration of the estate. Court costs shall include expenses of selling property.

Court: The Iowa district court sitting in probate and includes any Iowa district judge.

Debts: Includes liabilities of the decedent which survive, whether arising in contract, tort or otherwise.

Devise: When used as a noun, to dispose of property, both real and personal, by a will.

Devise: When used as a verb, to dispose of property, both real and personal, by a will.

Devisee: Includes legatee.

Distributee: A person entitled to any property of the decedent under the decedent's will or under the statutes of intestate succession.

Estate: The real and personal property of either a decedent or a ward, and may also refer to the real and personal property of a trust described in section 633.10.

Executor: Means any person appointed by the court to administer the estate of a testate decedent.

Fiduciary: Includes personal representative, executor, administrator, guardian, conservator, and the trustee of any trust described in section 633.10.

Full age: The state of legal majority attained through arriving at the age of eighteen (18) years or through having married, even though such marriage is terminated by divorce.

Functional limitations: Means the behavior or condition of a person which impairs the person's ability to care for the person's safety or to attend to or provide for necessities for the person.

Guardian: The person appointed by the court to have the custody of the person of the ward under the provisions of this probate code.

Guardian of the property: At the election of the person appointed by the court to have the custody and care of the property of a ward, the term " guardian of the property" may be used, which term shall be synonymous with the term " conservator".

Heir: Any person, except the surviving spouse, who is entitled to property of a decedent under the statutes of intestate succession.

Incompetent: Means the condition of any person who has been adjudicated by a court to meet at least one of the following conditions:

  1. To have a decision-making capacity which is so impaired that the person is unable to care for the person's personal safety or to attend to or provide for necessities for the person such as food, shelter, clothing, or medical care, without which physical injury or illness may occur.
  2. To have a decision-making capacity which is so impaired that the person is unable to make, communicate, or carry out important decisions concerning the person's financial affairs.
  3. To have a decision-making capacity which is so impaired that both paragraphs " a" and " b" are applicable to the person.

Issue: For the purposes of intestate succession, includes all lawful lineal descendants of a person, whether biological or adopted, except those who are the lineal descendants of the person's living descendants.

Legacy: A testamentary disposition of personal property.

Legatee: A person entitled to personal property under a will.

Letters: Includes letters testamentary, letters of administration, letters of guardianship, letters of conservatorship, and letters of trusteeship.

Minor: A person who is not of full age.

Person: Includes natural persons and corporations.

Personal representative: Includes executor and administrator.

Property: Includes both real and personal property.

Surviving spouse: The surviving wife or husband, as the case may be.

Temporary administrator: Any person appointed by the court to care of an estate pending the probating of a proposed will, or to handle any special matter designated by the court.

Trustee: The person or persons serving as trustee of a trust described in section 633.10.

Trusts: Includes only those trusts described in section 633.10.

Will: Includes codicil; it also includes a testamentary instrument that merely appoints an executor, and a testamentary instrument that merely revokes or revives another will.

Further definitions are found in Iowa Code Section 633.3.