Glossary a



When there are not enough assets in an estate to pay all claims against it and distribute bequests to beneficiaries under the will, abatement must occur. Abatement reduces gifts in a will. In rare cases, a will might outline an order in which abatement occurs. Generally, though, gifts in the will are reduced starting with general bequests then moving to specific bequests.

Abstract of Title/Title Abstract

An abstract of title, also known as a title abstract, contains information about ownership of real property. Generally, when a person wants to purchase a piece of real property, he or she will get a title search company to conduct a title search. The purpose of a title search is to determine if there are any encumbrances on the property. A title search may reveal, for example, a creditor’s lien on the property or joint ownership of the property. The abstract of title/title abstract will include information about any such issues affecting ownership of the real property.


Ademption occurs when a bequest in the will cannot be made because the decedent no longer possessed the item at his or her death. It is possible for ademption to be partial when, for example, a will gives a beneficiary “my collection of 100 baseball cards,” but before the decedent’s death, he or she sold 20 of them so the collection only consists of 80 cards.


An affidavit is a written statement. To be considered an affidavit, the written statement must be made under oath or affirmation, must be made voluntarily, and must be made in front of a person authorized by law to witness it (generally a notary public).


The act of estimating what an item, property, or piece land would likely sell for in the current market by using sales data of comparable items and other appraising methodology.

Appraised value

The estimated amount an item or piece of property would sell for in the current market. This value should be determined by a skilled appraiser following sound appraising practices.


A person who has experience and is considered an expert when it comes to determining the value of an item or property. They should have no vested interest in the item or property in order to give an objective appraisal.


An increase in value of property or other item. Typically, real estate and securities appreciate over time, while other assets depreciate.


Property – including home, land, cars, household goods, etc. – that are owned by a person and considered to have monetary value.