Preparing for Death/After Death: Definitions and Terms

There are some of you who think that it is too time consuming to do a Will or a Family Trust. There are a few procedures to get through to make the after death procedures easy on the loved ones we have left behind. We drag our feet to get through the whole process of estate planning, but what about after death? After death requires more to prepare for and do, especially if one does not get their estate planning in place before death.  Here are a few hints and definitions as to what exactly each person’s role is.

Administration Procedures:

An “estate” is the combination of all assets, rights, titles, or interests in any property as well as associated liabilities that a deceased person owned. Checking to see if or how personal property is owned.  The important part of the estate and the question that poses in one’s mind is there a trust? Is there a will? What is left behind bills, personal belongings etc…


The person appointed in the Will to settle the estate is known as the “executor” (male) or the “executrix” (female). This position is a very important one. These people have been chosen carefully to carry the descendants wishes based upon the trust and the capability of this person and to carry out the wishes of the will in a legally and lawful manner, and in the best interest of the beneficiaries, not themselves.  Within these actions they also must be fair and compensate each beneficiary equally not show favoritism to just one beneficiary.  They need to gather information and organize documentation this includes finding the will or the trust, checking the deed to all the properties, checking for checking savings accounts, any and all bills that need to paid or taken care of immediately.  They will also be getting everything ready the estate all the assets ready to file for probate including not limited to paying probate fees. The next step will be administrating the estate which will include selling the estate, the assets, passing out the goods for lack of a better word. The last and one of the most important duties will be closing the estate making sure every wish has been followed through and all the money has been passed out and the estate closed out.


If the decedent dies without a Will (which is called intestate) the court will appoint someone as “administrator”  to settle the estate. If the descendant dies without a Will, and the executor is unwilling or unable to act and no alternate executor is named or accepts to act, the court will appoint someone as “administrator with Will annexed.” “Personal representative” or “PR” is the gender-neutral term frequently used to refer to executors, executrices, and all court appointed administrators.

There are many other terms used to describe and refer to individuals who are entitled to receive a portion of the decedent’s estate. They are as follows:



Preparing for death/after death: finances

ARRANGE FINANCING may be necessary to make sure there is proper cash flow. Although it is necessary to read and review the Will to ensure it authorizes such action.


In order to calculate probate filing fees, prepare estate taxes, tax returns. It is necessary to inventory estate assets and liabilities.


Check ownership of all assets home, car etc…  Making sure and determining factors as to whether assets are subject to probate in its form of ownership.

Even though is seems as the decedents is the sole owner, the following agreements may assign ownership to someone else:

Prenuptial Agreement

Reading and following through with the terms in the agreement.

Community property agreement

Non-martial cohabitation agreement needs to be closely looked over as many of the assets may not be community property and may not be included in the estate

Spousal property agreement

Reading and following through and making sure that the property is on both parties names


Add the value of the assets of the estate that are subject to creditors claims. Then subtract the items of property, fees, and a allowances that particular state exempts from creditor claims.


There are plenty of professionals you can go to seek help to figure out what documentation is needed who to contact where to go and what do.

Karen Corbelli is a Redding-based legal document assistant armed with more than 20 years of legal experience. She can be reached at 515-5081 or

Comment Policy: We welcome your comments, with some caveats: Please keep your comments positive and civilized. If your comment is critical, please make it constructive. If your comment is rude, we will delete it. If you are constantly negative or a general pest, troll, or hater, we will ban you from the site forever. The definition of terms is left solely up to us. Comments are disabled on articles older than 90 days. Thank you. Carry on.

7 Responses

  1. Avatar `AJacoby says:

    I've done bits and pieces of this process here and there. I need someone to look over stuff and see where the holes are. Do I need to see an attorney for this . . . or someone like yourself . . . or cousin Bob . . . . ?

  2. Joanne Snyder Joanne Snyder says:

    A Living Trust that my parents set up specified everything that they wanted to happen when should one or the other of them passed away. After the trust was created there was no probate and no lawyers involved in how their requests were met. Let's add a Living Trust to our "obituary and Last Wishes" gathering.

  3. Joanne Snyder Joanne Snyder says:

    WHEN one or the other…… the word "should" just slipped in there.

  4. Avatar Karen says:

    Hi AJacoby,

    I can help you with any question you may have. If it is out of my expertise I have plenty of attorneys I can refer you to.

    Please give me a call @530-515-5081. Or you can e mail me at I look forward to helping you.

  5. Avatar Karen says:


    Thank you for your comment. Yes a Living Trust does avoid a lot of hassles. Thank goodness your parents had one. It makes the transition so much easier and on the family left behind. Hopefully, you and your spouse have a Living Trust.

  6. Avatar Joanne Snyder says:

    Karen, I think I'd better move on this. I'll always be thankful that my parents took the time to make the decisions to go into that trust. I need to do the same.