Skip to Content

General Laws

Section 1-201. [Definitions and Inclusions.]

Subject to additional definitions contained in the subsequent articles that are applicable to specific articles, parts, or sections, and unless the context otherwise requires, in this chapter:

(1) “Administration”, includes both formal and informal testate and intestate proceedings under article III.

(2) “Agent”, includes an attorney-in-fact under a durable or nondurable power of attorney, an individual authorized to make decisions concerning another’s health care in accordance with chapter 201D, and an individual authorized to make decisions for another under a natural death act.

(3) “Beneficiary”, as it relates to a trust beneficiary, includes a person who has any present or future interest, vested or contingent, and also includes the owner of an interest by assignment or other transfer; as it relates to a charitable trust, includes any person entitled to enforce the trust; as it relates to a “beneficiary of a beneficiary designation”, refers to a beneficiary of an insurance or annuity policy, of an account with POD designation, of a security registered in beneficiary form (TOD), or of a pension, profit-sharing, retirement, or similar benefit plan, or other nonprobate transfer at death; and, as it relates to a “beneficiary designated in a governing instrument”, includes a grantee of a deed, a devisee, a trust beneficiary, a beneficiary of a beneficiary designation, a donee, appointee, or taker in default of a power of appointment, or a person in whose favor a power of attorney or a power held in any individual, fiduciary, or representative capacity is exercised.

(4) “Beneficiary designation”, refers to a governing instrument naming a beneficiary of an insurance or annuity policy, of an account with POD designation, of a security registered in beneficiary form (TOD), or of a pension, profit-sharing, retirement, or similar benefit plan, or other nonprobate transfer at death.

(5) “Child”, includes an individual entitled to take as a child under this chapter by intestate succession from the parent whose relationship is involved and excludes a person who is only a stepchild, a foster child, a grandchild, or any more remote descendant.

(6) “Claims”, in respect to estates of decedents and protected persons, includes liabilities of the decedent or protected person, whether arising in contract, in tort, or otherwise, and liabilities of the estate which arise at or after the death of the decedent or after the appointment of a conservator, including funeral expenses and expenses of administration. The term shall not include estate or inheritance taxes, or demands or disputes regarding title of a decedent or protected person to specific assets alleged to be included in the estate.

(7) “Court”, the probate and family court department of the trial court and includes the district court and juvenile court departments of the trial court in proceedings relating to the appointment of guardians of minors when the subject of the proceeding is a minor and there is proceeding before such district or juvenile court.

(8) “Conservator”, a person who is appointed by a court to manage the estate of a protected person.

(9) “Descendant”, of an individual means all of such individual’s descendants of all generations, with the relationship of parent and child at each generation being determined by the definition of child and parent contained in this chapter.

(10) “Devise”, when used as a noun, means a testamentary disposition of real or personal property and, when used as a verb, means to dispose of real or personal property by will.

(11) “Devisee”, a person designated in a will to receive a devise. In the case of a devise to an existing trust or trustee, or to a trustee or trust described by will, the trust or trustee is the devisee and the beneficiaries are not devisees.

(12) “Disability”, cause for appointment of a conservator under section 5-401.

(13) “Distributee”, any person who has received property of a decedent from the decedent’s personal representative other than as a creditor or purchaser. A testamentary trustee is a distributee only to the extent of distributed assets or increment thereto remaining in such trustee’s hands. A beneficiary of a testamentary trust to whom the trustee has distributed property received from a personal representative is a distributee of the personal representative. For the purposes of this provision, “testamentary trustee” includes a trustee to whom assets are transferred by will, to the extent of the devised assets.

(14) “Estate”, includes the property of the decedent, trust, or other person whose affairs are subject to this chapter as originally constituted and as it exists from time to time during administration.

(15) “Exempt property”, that property of a decedent’s estate which is described in section 2-403.

(16) “Fiduciary”, includes a personal representative, guardian, conservator, and trustee.

(17) “Foreign personal representative”, a personal representative appointed by another jurisdiction.

(18) “Formal proceedings”, proceedings conducted before a judge with notice to interested persons.

(19) “Governing instrument”, a deed, will, trust, insurance or annuity policy, account with POD designation, security registered in beneficiary form (TOD), pension, profit-sharing, retirement, or similar benefit plan, instrument creating or exercising a power of appointment or a power of attorney, or a donative, appointive, or nominative instrument of any other type.

(20) “Guardian”, a person who has qualified as a guardian of a minor or incapacitated person pursuant to testamentary or court appointment, but excludes 1 who is a guardian ad litem.

(21) “Heirs”, except as controlled by section 2-711, are persons, including the surviving spouse and the commonwealth, who are entitled under the statutes of intestate succession to the property of a decedent.

(22) “Incapacitated person”, an individual for whom a guardian has been appointed under part 3 of article V.

(23) “Informal proceedings”, those conducted without notice to interested persons by an officer of the court acting as a magistrate for probate of a will or appointment of a personal representative.

(24) “Interested person”, includes heirs, devisees, children, spouses, creditors, beneficiaries, and any others having a property right in or claims against a trust estate or the estate of a decedent, ward, or protected person. It also includes persons having priority for appointment as personal representative, and other fiduciaries representing interested persons. The meaning as it relates to particular persons may vary from time to time and shall be determined according to the particular purposes of, and matter involved in, any proceeding.

(25) “Issue”, means descendant as defined in subsection (9).

(26) “Joint tenants with the right of survivorship”, includes co-owners of property held under circumstances that entitle one or more to the whole of the property on the death of the other or others, but excludes forms of co-ownership registration in which the underlying ownership of each party is in proportion to that party’s contribution.

(27) “Lease”, includes an oil, gas, or other mineral lease.

(28) “Letters”, includes letters testamentary, letters of guardianship, letters of administration, and letters of conservatorship.

(29) “Magistrate”, refers to the official of the court designated to perform the function of magistrate as provided in section 1-307.

(30) “Minor”, a person who is under 18 years of age.

(31) “Mortgage”, any conveyance, agreement, or arrangement in which property is encumbered or used as security.

(32) “Nonresident decedent”, a decedent who was domiciled in another jurisdiction at the time of death.

(33) “Organization”, a corporation, business trust, estate, trust, partnership, joint venture, association, government or governmental subdivision or agency, or any other legal or commercial entity.

(34) “Parent”, includes any person entitled to take, or who would be entitled to take if the child died without a will, as a parent under this chapter by intestate succession from the child whose relationship is in question and excludes any person who is only a stepparent, foster parent, or grandparent.

(35) “Payor”, a trustee, insurer, business entity, employer, government, governmental agency or subdivision, or any other person authorized or obligated by law or a governing instrument to make payments.

(36) “Person”, an individual or an organization.

(37) “Personal representative”, includes executor, administrator, successor personal representative, special administrator, special personal representative, and persons who perform substantially the same function under the law governing their status. “General personal representative” excludes special personal administrator.

(38) “Petition”, a written request to the court for an order after notice.

(39) “Proceeding”, includes action at law and suit in equity.

(40) “Property”, includes both real and personal property or any interest therein and means anything that may be the subject of ownership.

(41) “Protected person”, a person for whom a conservator has been appointed under part 4 of article V.

(42) “Protective proceedings”, a proceeding for appointment of a conservator under part 4 of article V.

(43) “Register”, refers to the official designated in section 4 of chapter 217.

(44) “Security”, includes any note, stock, treasury stock, bond, debenture, evidence of indebtedness, certificate of interest or participation in an oil, gas, or mining title or lease or in payments out of production under such a title or lease, collateral trust certificate, transferable share, voting trust certificate or, in general, any interest or instrument commonly known as a security, or any certificate of interest or participation, any temporary or interim certificate, receipt, or certificate of deposit for, or any warrant or right to subscribe to or purchase, any of the foregoing.

(45) “Settlement”, in reference to a decedent’s estate, includes the full process of administration, distribution, and closing.

(46) “Special personal representative”, a personal representative as described by sections 3-614 to 3-618, inclusive.

(47) “State”, a state of the United States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, or any territory or insular possession subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.

(48) “Successor personal representative”, a personal representative, other than a special administrator, who is appointed to succeed a previously appointed personal representative.

(49) “Successors”, persons, other than creditors, who are entitled to property of a decedent under the decedent’s will or this chapter.

(50) “Supervised administration”, refers to the proceedings described in part 5 of article III.

(51) “Survive”, except for purposes of part 3 of article VI, means that an individual has neither predeceased an event, including the death of another individual, nor is deemed to have predeceased an event under section 2-104 or 2-702. The term includes its derivatives, such as “survives”, “survived”, “survivor”, “surviving”.

(52) “Testacy proceeding”, a proceeding to establish a will or determine intestacy.

(53) “Testator”, includes an individual of either sex.

(54) “Trust”, includes an express trust, private or charitable, with additions thereto, wherever and however created. The term also includes a trust created or determined by judgment or decree under which the trust is to be administered in the manner of an express trust. The term excludes other constructive trusts and excludes resulting trusts, conservatorships, personal representatives, trust accounts as defined in article VI, custodial arrangements pursuant to chapter 201A, business trusts providing for certificates to be issued to beneficiaries, common trust funds, voting trusts, security arrangements, liquidation trusts, and trusts for the primary purpose of paying debts, dividends, interest, salaries, wages, profits, pensions, or employee benefits of any kind, and any arrangement under which a person is nominee or escrow for another.

(55) “Trustee”, includes an original, additional, or successor trustee, whether or not appointed or confirmed by court.

(56) “Ward”, an individual for whom a guardian has been appointed pursuant to part 2 of article V.

(57) “Will”, includes codicil and any testamentary instrument that merely appoints an executor, revokes or revises another will, nominates a guardian, or expressly excludes or limits the right of an individual or class to succeed to property of the decedent passing by intestate succession.

Error