Title Transfers and Wills

One of the three methods of voluntary alienation, or the voluntary transfer of tite to real estate, is through a will. The legalese term that applies to this scenario is "testate," which is used to refer to the death of a person with a will.

Depending on whether the will is transferring personal property or real property, different terms and processes are involved. Before reviewing the differences between the transfer of personal property and real property through a will, let's review the common elements and parties involved with the disposition of either type of properties:

  • Testator. The deceased person who created the will or for whom the will was created is called the testator; however, this person may also be called the testatrix, if female. The testator is the person whose property is being disposed through the will.
  • Executor. The person named in the will to administer the terms of the will is called the executor. This person may also be called the executrix, if female.
  • Administrator. If the deceased person has died intestate (without a will), the probate court may appoint an administrator to oversee the distribution of the deceased person's estate. An administrator may also be appointed if the will does not specify an executor. The female version is often called an administratrix.
  • Probate. The process by which probate court settles the estate of a deceased person is called probate. Probate court is typically required when someone with assets dies without a valid will.

Personal property

The will may dispose of both real and personal property. The portion of the will dealing with personal property uses different legal terms:

  • Testator. With personal property, however, the testator/testatrix bequeaths personal property (such as cash and other objects) to the beneficiary or legatee.
  • Bequest. The process of disposing personal—as opposed to real—property through a will. Sometimes called the legacy, this would include any cash or non-real estate property.
  • Beneficiary. The person receiving personal—as opposed to real—property through a will. Sometimes called the legatee, this would include disposition of cash.

Real property

The transfer of real estate by will often involves the following parties, terms and elements:

  • Devisor. The person (deceased) who is giving real property through the will is called a devisor. The operative element here is real estate. The devisor and testator are often the same person. It is simply that when real estate property is involved, that portion of the process is considered the devising and involves the devisor and devisee.
  • Devisee. The person who is receiving real property through the will is the devisee. The devisee and beneficiary to a will may be the same person. The basic difference is whether the property being received is real property or personal property. In the portion of the will that deals with real property, the receiver is the devisee.
  • Devise. The process of disposing real—as opposed to personal—property through a will is technically called the devise. The will may involve a devise and a bequest; the difference is that the devise handles the disposition of real property, while the bequest handles the disposition of personal (non-real) property.

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