Definition of estate
From Anglo-Norman astat, from Old French estat (French: état).
estate (plural estates)
- An area on land under single ownership.
- (law) The nature and extent of a person's interest in, or ownership of, land.
- All that a person owns, whether real or personal property.
- The property of a deceased person.
- (British) A group of buildings built together as a single development on a designated area of land. (w:Housing estate)
- (British, automotive) A body style for cars, popular with families, which has an enclosed area where the boot or trunk would be on a sedan / saloon.
- (British) An estate car.
- A major social class or order of persons regarded collectively as part of the body politic of the country and formerly possessing distinct political rights (w:Estates of the realm)
- (estate car) estate car, station sedan, station wagon, wagon
An estate is the net worth of a person at any point in time. It is the sum of a person's assets - legal rights, interests and entitlements to property of any kind - less all liabilities at that time. The issue is of special legal significance on a question of bankruptcy and death of the person. (See inheritance.)
Depending on the context, the term is also used in reference to an estate in land or of a particular kind of property (such as real estate or personal estate). The term is also used to refer to the sum of a person's assets only.
In the context of probate, the estate of a deceased person consists of all the property, whether real or personal, owned by the person at the time of death. Assets that pass to somebody else by operation of law (for example, property held on a joint tenancy basis), do not form part of the deceased estate, even though the person had rights to that property during his or her lifetime. Also, if the deceased owned life insurance and nominated a beneficiary of the policy, the proceeds of that policy would not pass into the deceased's estate, but would go directly to the nominated beneficiary. Similarly, superannuation death benefits can go directly to a deceased's dependent, bypassing the deceased's estate. (See will and intestacy) The estate (or assets) of a deceased person is administered by an executor (in the case of a will) or administrator (in the case of intestacy). The function of the executor and administrator is to protect the assets of the estate, pay out all expenses and the deceased's liabilities and distribute the balance in accordance with the directions in the will, or as required by law.
Legal estate in land
In land law, the term "estate" is a remnant of the English feudal system, which created a complex hierarchy of estates and interests in land. The allodial or fee simple interest is the most complete ownership that one can have of property in the common law system. An estate can be an estate for years, an estate at will, a life estate (extinguishing at the death of the holder), an estate pur auter vie (a life interest for the life of another person) or a fee tail estate (to the heirs of one's body) or some more limited kind of heir (e.g. to heirs male of one's body).
Under US bankruptcy law, a person's estate consists of all assets or property of any kind available for distribution to creditors. The estate (or assets) of a bankrupt person is administered by a trustee in bankruptcy. The legal position in all common law countries is similar in this respect.
Source: Wiktionary. Published under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.