Thursday, October 19, 2006

What do "Testator," "Testate," and "Intestate" Mean?

A "testator" is someone who has made a will. If you have made your will, you are the testator of your will.

If you are a woman, you may call yourself the "testatrix," but I prefer to use the term "testator" for either a man or a woman. The reason I like to just say "testator" is not so much a matter of political correctness, as one of pronunciation. I find it easier to say "testator" than "testatrix." Try saying each one three times quickly.

When someone (whether man or woman) dies having made a valid will, he or she has died "testate." If he or she did not have a valid will in effect at death, he or she died "intestate." "Testate" means with a valid will, and "intestate" means without a valid will.

What if the deceased had a valid will that disposed of part of his or her assets, but not everything? Supposing the testator's will left his house to his children, but the did not deal with his other assets. This is called a "partial intestacy."

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