A personal calendar with the word probate attached


Law Office of Rodney Gould June 17, 2021

No matter what your age is or where you are in life, planning for the future is always important. Doing so early allows you to make sure that your wishes are adhered to and your assets and family are taken care of. When it comes to the process of probate, many people are unfamiliar with what it is and how it works.

Whether you are planning your estate or have recently lost a loved one and dealing with the probate process, having an experienced attorney guiding you through the process and educating you on important probate terms can help.

The Law Office of Rodney Gould is here to help. With almost three decades of experience, attorney Rodney Gould understands probate law and can help you navigate the process with confidence. The firm is proud to serve those in Los Angeles, California, and the surrounding areas of Sherman Oaks, Studio City, West Hollywood, and Beverly Hills.

Important Terms You Should Know

Let’s dive into some of the most commonly used terms within the realm of estate planning and probate that you should know.


Probate is the judicial process in which the will of someone who is deceased is proven to be genuine or not. It is the legal process of administering a will. It is also the word used to encompass the lawful distribution of the decedent’s estate.

Probate also involves the judicially supervised process for marshaling a decedent’s assets, paying proper debts, and distributing the remaining assets to the persons or entities entitled to them. A will is not necessary for the process of probate to occur. An estate may be probated even if there is no will.

Personal Representative

A personal representative is a person who is authorized to act on behalf of the decedent’s estate. This person is usually either an administrator or executor appointed by the court to administer a decedent’s estate.


An administrator is a person appointed by the court to administer the estate of a person who died without a will. Many times it is a family member.


A beneficiary is an individual or organization to which a gift of property is made. The gift is made through a will, a life insurance policy, or a trust. Beneficiaries of a will only receive their benefits after the will is examined and approved by the probate court. Beneficiaries of trusts receive their benefits directly as provided in the trust instrument.


An executor is a person named in a will to carry out the directions as set forth in the will. This person is the personal representative of the decedent’s estate.

Intestate Succession

An intestate succession occurs when there is no will. A court will distribute your property according to California state law.


Testate means that the person died leaving a valid will behind. In this case, the court will distribute property according to the will.


Guardianship typically comes into play when children are involved. It is the person appointed by the court to protect and manage the personal care or financial affairs, or both, of a minor. You can assign guardianship in your will for children, seniors, or for a mentally incapacitated adult.


Conservatorship is the court proceeding that is used to appoint a manager for the financial affairs or the personal care of one who is either physically or mentally unable to handle either or both.

Get Reliable Guidance from the Law Office of Rodney Gould

Whether you have lost a loved one or are figuring out your family’s future, the Law Office of Rodney Gould is here to help. The firm is proud to take a collaborative approach to estate planning and can provide reliable legal guidance for all of your estate planning and probate needs. If you live in Los Angeles, California, or the surrounding areas of Sherman Oaks, Studio City, West Hollywood, and Beverly Hills. Call or reach out today to learn more!