If a person dies with a will, the person died testate. The person who died is called the decedent. Any property the decedent had at the time of death is given out according to what the will says during a probate court case.
The person who is named in the will to be put in charge of distributing the property in the will is the executor. The executor does not have any power until officially appointed by the court during the probate proceeding.
People or organizations named in the decedent's will who get property or money are called beneficiaries, or legatees.
The original will must be filed in the county where the decedent lived when they died.
Sometimes the person is in a hospital or nursing home when they die. If the hospital or nursing home is in a different county than the decedent's house, the will should be filed in the county where they had their home.
A decedent's spouse and dependent children get a certain amount of the estate even if the spouse and children are not named in the will. This is true also if the spouses were separated for many years. A child can be a minor or an adult, as long as the child was financially dependent on the person who died.
Updated: January 2017