es·tate | \ i-ˈstāt \

Definition of estate 

(Entry 1 of 2)

2 : social standing or rank especially of a high order

3 : a social or political class specifically : one of the great classes (such as the nobility, the clergy, and the commons) formerly vested with distinct political powers

4a : the degree, quality, nature, and extent of one's interest in land or other property

b(1) : possessions, property especially : a person's property in land and tenements a man of small estate

(2) : the assets and liabilities left by a person at death

c : a landed property usually with a large house on it

d British : project sense 4

5 British : station wagon

6 : farm, plantation also : vineyard



Definition of estate (Entry 2 of 2)

: previously owned by another and usually of high quality estate jewelry

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Examples of estate in a Sentence


His estate is worth millions of dollars. He inherited the estate from his parents. the grounds of the estate
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

In a particularly bizarre turn, the city of Chicago also briefly filed a lawsuit against LeGrier’s estate, blaming him for the shooting. P.r. Lockhart, Vox, "Quintonio LeGrier was killed by police. A jury awarded his family $1 million. Then a judge took it away.," 29 June 2018 Hirsch’s estate is remote, in Sonoma’s Fort Ross-Seaview AVA, but the winery now operates a small tasting room in Healdsburg. Esther Mobley,, "Signs of new life in California vineyards," 21 June 2018 For centuries, Knepp Castle’s 3,500-acre estate was devoted to intensive arable and dairy farming. National Geographic, "When Nature Runs Wild, the Results Can Be Spectacular," 16 June 2018 About 50 people gathered in sight of President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate to advocate for gun control on Tuesday morning. Skyler Swisher,, "Gun-control activists hold die-in near Mar-a-Lago," 12 June 2018 If successful in proving those points, then Jewel Upshaw, on behalf of herself and her son’s estate, would then be entitled to monetary damages. Michael Mccann,, "Examining the Zeke Upshaw Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against the NBA," 1 June 2018 The collaboration with Wojnarowicz’s estate will be feted tonight at Printed Matter, a store that holds a special place in this project’s birth. Steff Yotka, Vogue, "Loewe Is Celebrating the Art of David Wojnarowicz With a Capsule Collection Benefitting Visual AIDS," 31 May 2018 Representatives for Houston’s estate did not immediately return a request for comment. Fox News, "Kanye West reportedly dropped $85K on photos of Whitney Houston's drug-covered bathroom for an album cover," 25 May 2018 Time reports that a 4-by-4-foot sinkhole opened in front of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in 2017, causing traffic delays and prompting the town of Palm Beach, Fla., to issue a travel warning. Monique Judge, The Root, "No, Seriously. Earth Is Literally Trying to Drain the Swamp, Starting With Donald Trump," 24 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

The third lot was zoned estate single-family detached dwelling district zoning. Steve Lord, Aurora Beacon-News, "Aurora to annex 22.5 acres for data storage company expansion," 12 Oct. 2017 First, the lawyer who drew up your estate documents might be willing to serve as your executor, says Holly Isdale, founder of Wealthaven, a consulting firm in Bryn Mawr, Pa., that focuses on financial and estate plans. Glenn Ruffenach, WSJ, "How to Find Ideas for ‘Second Acts’ After Retiring," 27 Mar. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'estate.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of estate


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1978, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for estate


Middle English estat, from Anglo-French — more at state


Anglo-French estat, literally, state, condition, from Old French, from Latin status, from stare to stand

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Learn More about estate

Phrases Related to estate

industrial estate

real estate agent

Statistics for estate

Last Updated

21 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for estate

The first known use of estate was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for estate



Financial Definition of estate

What It Is

An estate is all of an individual’s property and financial assets and liabilities at the time of his or her death.The definition of estate on InvestingAnswers

How It Works

An estate might include a home and other real estate owned by an individual, as well as valuables such as jewelry and artwork, and financial assets such as stocks and bonds. An estate may also include debt.

Why It Matters

The contents of an estate are distributed according to the owner’s will upon death. If the total value of the estate exceeds a certain limit, then assets passed on to heirs may be subject to an estate tax.

Source: Investing Answers

taxable estate


Financial Definition of taxable estate

What It Is

A taxable estate is the portion of a person's net assets that are taxable upon his or her death.

How It Works

An estate tax is often levied on the assets that the deceased leaves to his or her heirs.

Living spouses who inherit their husband/wife's assets can avoid estate taxes altogether. This type of transfer is known as the unlimited marital deduction.

However, in most other cases, non-spouse beneficiaries will be required to pay taxes on the deceased's taxable estate. Typically, estate taxes are only levied once a certain threshold, known as the exclusion limit, has been reached. Currently, the exclusion limit is $5 million at the federal tax level (state tax levels vary).

Let's look at an example. Assume that John has $10 million in various investment accounts. He also owns a house worth $1.8 million that still has an $800,000 mortgage. He is not married, and he's already set aside $20,000 in a designated account to pay for his funeral expenses.

Now assume that John dies unexpectedly in a car accident, and his assets pass to his only son, Sam.

John's estate, after deducting the costs of his funeral and the repayment of his debts, is taxable. The IRS includes cash, securities, real estate, insurance, trusts, annuities, businesses, farms and other assets when calculating John's taxable estate.

We can use this information to calculate John's taxable estate:

$10,000,000 + 1,800,000 - $800,000 - $20,000 -$5,000,000 = $5,980,000

John's estate must pay estate taxes on the $5,980,000 value of the estate that is left over after accounting for John's debts and the IRS exclusion limit. Some states also assess their own estate taxes on top of this.

The executor of John's estate is responsible for ensuring that the taxes are paid.

Why It Matters

Estate taxes are some of the most complicated kinds of taxes. In general, when assets flow to a spouse rather than an heir, a "marital deduction" applies, which makes most assets exempt from estate taxes. Similarly, assets donated to charity are generally not subject to estate taxes. Last, but not least, is the federal estate tax exemption of $5 million (scheduled to expire at the end of 2012).

It is important to note that the IRS looks at the fair market value of assets for tax purposes; it does not consider what was originally paid for those assets.

Estate taxes, like other taxes on unearned incomes, are a source of revenue for governments that use it to finance various projects. The issue of the estate tax has become highly politicized, and it is sometimes referred to as the "death tax" by people who oppose it.

But estate taxes are not inevitable. In the U.S., there are many different estate planning techniques that individuals can use to reduce the size of their taxable estates.

Source: Investing Answers



English Language Learners Definition of estate

: all of the things that a person owns

: the things left by someone who has died

: a large piece of land with a large house on it


es·tate | \ i-ˈstāt \

Kids Definition of estate

1 : the property of all kinds that a person leaves at death

2 : a mansion on a large piece of land

3 : state entry 1 sense 1 … he was hardly grateful that he had been spared, remembering how lonely was his estate —Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer

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es·tate | \ i-ˈstāt \

Legal Definition of estate 

1 : the interest of a particular degree, nature, quality, or extent that one has in land or other property — compare fee, future interest at interest, remainder, reversion, tenancy

absolute estate

: an estate that confers an absolute right to property and that is subject to no limitations, restrictions, or conditions : fee simple absolute at fee simple

contingent estate

: an estate whose vesting is conditioned upon the happening or failure of some uncertain event

equitable estate

: the estate of one that has a beneficial right to property which is legally owned by a trustee or a person regarded at equity as a trustee (as in the case of a use or power) — compare legal estate in this entry

estate at sufferance

: the estate in property held by one who remains in possession of or on the property after his or her lawful right to do so has ended

estate at will

: an estate in property subject to termination at the will of another person

estate by the entirety

: an estate held by a husband and wife together in which the whole property belongs to each of them and passes as a whole to the survivor upon the death of either of them to the exclusion of the deceased spouse's heirs

called also estate by the entireties;

— compare joint tenancy, tenancy by the entirety, and tenancy in common at tenancy

estate for years

: an estate that terminates after a set period

estate in expectancy

: an estate the enjoyment of which will take place at a future time : future interest at interest

estate of inheritance

: an estate that can be inherited (as a fee simple as opposed to a life estate)

estate on condition

: an estate subject to a contingency whose happening permits the grantor of the estate to terminate it if he or she so chooses — compare fee simple determinable at fee simple

estate pur autre vie

: a life estate measured by the life of a third person rather than that of the person enjoying the property

estate tail estates tail

: an estate granted to a person and his or her direct descendants subject to a reverter or remainder upon the inheritance of the property by a grantee without direct descendants : fee tail at fee

legal estate

: an estate to which one person (as a trustee) has legal title but of which another person has the right to the beneficial use — compare equitable estate in this entry

life estate

: an estate in property held only during or measured in duration by the lifetime of a specified individual and especially the individual enjoying the property — see also life tenant

Note: Life estates are not estates of inheritance.

vested estate

: an estate in which one has a right to enjoyment currently or sometime in the future

2 : all or designated items of a person's or entity's property considered as a whole

bankruptcy estate

: the estate of a debtor in bankruptcy that includes all the debtor's legal and equitable interests in property as set out in the bankruptcy laws

called also debtor's estate

— see also bankruptcy, trustee in bankruptcy

personal estate

: all of a person's property except real property broadly : all of the property belonging to a person

separate estate

: an estate whose ownership and control is enjoyed by a person free from any rights or control of another (as a spouse)

3a : the assets and liabilities left by a person at death — see also bequest, devise, freehold, heir, inheritance, intestate, leasehold, legacy, probate, testate, will

augmented estate \ȯg-ˈmen-təd- \

: a deceased person's probate estate increased in accordance with statutory provisions and especially by the addition of any property transferred by the deceased within two years of death, any joint tenancies, and any transfers in which the deceased retained either the right to revoke or the income for life

Note: In some states, the surviving spouse's elective share is distributed from the augmented estate.

gross estate

: the estate of a person upon death defined by federal estate laws to include all of the deceased's real and personal property at death that may be passed by will or by intestate succession as well as specified property transferred by the deceased before death

probate estate

: all of a deceased person's estate that is administered under the jurisdiction of the probate court

Note: Some assets, such as certain insurance proceeds, generally do not become part of the probate estate and are said to “pass outside of probate.”

residuary estate

: all of what is left of an estate once the deceased person's debts and administration costs have been paid and all specific and general bequests and devises have been distributed

called also residual estate

taxable estate

: the estate of a deceased person that is subject to estate tax

Note: Under federal estate tax law, the taxable estate is the gross estate less allowed deductions.

b : the aggregate of a deceased person's property considered as a legal entity

4 : a tract of land especially affected by an easement

dominant estate

: a tract of land that is benefited by an easement burdening a servient estate

servient estate

: a tract of land that is burdened by an easement benefiting a dominant estate

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Comments on estate

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an open space surrounded by woods

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