Estate Legal Meaning and Definition

Here is a simplified definition of the legal term Estate.

Estate (noun)

  1. Refers to the total property, including real estate and other assets, owned by an individual at a certain point in time - typically at the time of their death.
  2. In legal contexts, the term can specifically indicate the total possessions of a deceased person that are subject to court-supervised probate (the legal process of administering a deceased person's estate) and distribution to beneficiaries.
  3. It is also used to describe the assets managed by a guardian for a ward (someone who is legally under another person's care) or by a conservator for a conservatee (an individual with physical or mental impairments that require someone else to manage their affairs).
  4. More specifically, "estate" can denote a type of real property interest and is often used in combination with other terms, such as "life estate" or "estate for years".

In all of these contexts, an "estate" essentially represents a range of ownership interests in property.