Glossary e


Elective Share

It is possible for a married person to prepare a will that gives nothing or a very small amount of the estate to his or her spouse. Most states have laws that allow the surviving spouse to take a certain percentage of the estate as determined by that state’s law instead of having to adhere to the will’s bequest (or lack thereof). This is called a spouse’s elective share. Please note this does not apply to children. A person may disinherit his or her children and most states do not have any such laws allowing them to get a portion of the estate’s assets.


The use of chemicals to slow decomposition of a body after death. It is typically done in order to preserve the body for funeral services and visitation.


This is the difference in a property’s fair market value and the amount the property’s owner owes on any outstanding loans or mortgages. For example, if a home is valued at $150,000 and the owner still owes $90,000 on the mortgage, their equity in the home is $60,000.

Estate Auction

An auction held in order to sell off the items of a deceased individual in the process of closing their estate and distributing assets to beneficiaries. Items are won and purchased by the highest bidders. Estate auctions can be held at the deceased’s residence, at an auction house, or online.

Estate EIN

Also known as an estate employer identification number, this is needed in order to file a final estate income tax return, which is different from the tax return filed for the deceased individual. This number, which comes in the format of 12-345678X, can be applied for by mail using IRS Form SS-4 or online at the IRS website.

Estate Sale

A sale held in order to sell off the items of a deceased individual in the process of closing their estate and distributing assets to beneficiaries. Items are typically tagged with set prices at a sale like this, similar to yard and garage sales.

Estate tax

A tax on any real estate, stock, cash or other assets that are passed from the deceased person to their beneficiaries. This tax is paid from the estate of the deceased.


A speech or piece of writing that praises someone. When used in reference to a funeral, it is a speech that honors the deceased.

Executor / Executor of Estate

An executor is a person who is named in a will to carry out the administration of a decedent’s estate according to the wishes of the decedent as described in the will, as well as applicable state laws. Executrix is a female executor. An executor is also sometimes also known as an “executor of estate.”


The word executrix is the female version of the word executor. It is a latin term that originated in the medieval period, also known as the middle ages. The term executrix really came into wider use during the 1500s and is still being used today. Its increased usage since the 1500s can likely be attributed to both a wider use of wills and a wider acceptance over time of women, as opposed to men, serving as an executrix.

An executrix is a woman named in a will to oversee the administration of a deceased person’s estate. It is the duty of an executrix to follow the wishes of the will to the benefit of the named beneficiaries.

Exempt Personal Property

If the decedent (the person who died) left a surviving spouse , the spouse is allowed to ask the probate court for exempt personal property. If there was no surviving spouse, if the decadent had children who were minors, they may also ask the probate court for exempt personal property. This includes personal effects, household furnishings, etc., and comes in addition to anything the spouse or minor children receive in the will. If exempt personal property is given, it is exempt from any claims creditors and other beneficiaries have against the estate.