Glossary of Terms

Complex topics & terminology explained

Administrator

The Administrator is the person assigned to handle the Estate of a deceased person who does not have a Will, because no Executor(s) have been appointed. They will mainly handle financial aspects of their life, such as ensuring bills are paid, closing credit card accounts, utility, bank accounts, and distributing gifts.

Asset

These are items of value you own, such as a savings account, fine jewellery, vehicle, condominium or house. They are separate from debts and must be free of liens that are held until a loan has been paid off.

Attestation

The writer of the will must validate that the Will they have written is theirs and that it is the latest version. The writer of the Will must sign it to confirm this is true.

Beneficiary / Beneficiaries

One person or a group of people who will receive money, property, or other items designated in a Will. These may involve friends, family, colleagues, an organization, or a charitable association.

Bequest

A bequest is the process of gifting something in a Will to another person, organisation or charity. It may involve money, real Estate, jewellery, valuables, or even items that may only have personal worth to someone, such as photographs or trophies.

Capital

Capital is in reference to the current value of the assets. It does not pertain to any future income, such as interest or income that may be earned from them.

Codicil

A codicil is a legal document that is added to a current Will. It makes alterations or additions to the Will. It must also be legally witnessed, and must be kept with your Will.

Conveyance

This the process where the ownership of a property, house, land, or buildings is transferred from one person to another. It is often done when a person purchases the property, or when someone dies and passes the property onto their children.

Deed

A deed differs from a Will in that it transfers an interest in property or land to another person. It is also a legal document that must be legally witnessed.

Deed of Gift

This occurs as a gift that is transferred from one person to another. It can involve property, a share of the property, land, or other buildings. There is no recompense involved.

Donor

The donor is the person who requires the services of the LPA or EPA. They are considered the owner or donor, and are authorising the other to work on their behalf.

Epitaph

An Epitaph is a short written description about a person, usually featuring on their tombstone or grave, describing their life. Often chosen by the family of the deceased or by the person prior to the death.

Estate

Your Estate is the total value of your assets when you die. It can involve fine art and jewellery, property, buildings, and financial assets. The total amount is minus the amount of any loans, debts, or liabilities that you may have.

Executor

This is the person or people who you will appoint in your Will to administer your Estate upon your death. They will be the ones who deal with your financial affairs, and be responsible for disposing of your assets, after they have been validated by the Probate court.

Family Trust

A person with a family can create a family trust in advance that will not necessitate any need for formal administration after death. It may also include generation skipping or protection measures. There are tax benefits that may be of benefit to setting up a family trust in advance.

Grant of Probate

The Court will give a Grant of Probate after a Will has been filed with the Probate Registry or Sub-Registry. The Executor(s) can then dispose of the assets and property of the deceased.

Guardian

This is a person that can be designated by a Testator so that children or their dependents are property cared for in the event of their death. The Guardian will have all parental responsibilities for these children.

Inheritance Tax

Inheritance tax is a tax that must be paid on an Estate before it passes on to the beneficiaries. If the Estate is valued at under £325,000 then no tax is due. There are ways of reducing the potential inheritance tax bill through things such as charitable donations and legacy gifts.

Intellectual Property

Intellectual property are real or imaginary items that you have created, and which have been protected by law. You may have done this by filing for a patent or copyright through a patent or copyright office.

Intestacy

This is when a person has died without having written a Will. To distribute their Estate or assets, certain laws will have to be followed. An administrator will also need to be assigned.

Intestacy (Partial)

This occurs when a person has written a Will but it has failed to cover all aspects of their Estate. This may occur when they have purchased real Estate since writing the Will, or have had children since then. It may also occur if there is no Executor appointed.

Intestacy (Rules of)

If a person passes away without a Will, there are rules that must be followed, particularly if the person has left assets or an Estate behind. The rules may pertain to what level of relationship the survivors had to that person.

Irrevocable

This is a process where the Will cannot be changed or cancelled. The Will is final. This is so that beneficiaries or other people cannot attempt to make changes when they may be unhappy after the reading of the Will.

Joint Tenancy

This is when more than two people own a single property. Even if one of the people dies in the joint tenancy, the other person will automatically inherit their portion. Even if that person has designated another owner of the property in their own Will, the original joint tenancy agreement will hold.

Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) (Property and Financial Affairs)

An LPA can be assigned through a document by a person or their family in the event that the person can no longer manage their affairs. It may be because of mental incapacitation, illness or accident, and is permanent. A friend, relative, or lawyer may be assigned.

Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) (Health & Welfare)

This is similar to the above, but may also be designated when a person can no longer make healthcare or welfare decisions for themselves. This is also assigned by a document.

Legacy

This is the actual gift that is left to a person, organisation or charity in a Will. A person can bequeath a legacy to someone in their Will. A legacy can be given to someone of their own choosing, and does not have to be a descendent.

Letter of Wishes

A letter of wishes is separate from your Will. It states your wishes for your smaller assets, but that the Executor(s) or trustees do not have to necessarily legally follow. This may include those smaller household items you may own that have little value, or photographs, or papers.

Liabilities

Liabilities are separate from assets. These are debts, bills, or loans that will be paid from that person’s Estate after they die. From there, the remainder of the Estate will be distributed to the beneficiaries.

Lifetime Gift

A lifetime gift is given before a person passes away. It is not designated in the Will. Generally, it is given from parents to children, or at the point when a person may have a terminal illness but wishes to see their lifetime gift benefit their loved ones while they’re still living.

Literary Estate

The literary Estate pertains to writers or authors who are the testator. It encompasses their current published works and unpublished works. It needs to be covered in the Will because there could be royalties or future royalties associated with their work.

Literary Executor

A literary Executor may be designated by the testator who has written books or other literary works. This literary Executor will continue to manage their literary Estate into the future.

Mirror Will

These are a set of two Wills that are extremely similar to each other. They are normally written for a married couple, with only the names reversed.

Mutual Wills

Mutual Wills involve two or more people who are a part of a contract. This means that they cannot be amended or changed, even if one of the testators has died during this time.

Next of Kin

Next of Kin usually refers to the closest blood relative of a person, but this not a legal term or one that is purely limited to a blood relative. If someone dies intestate, then the Next of Kin is often the beneficiary of the deceased’s Estate.

Obituary

Often a news article documenting the life and story of someone who has recently passed away, the Obituary may also pass on details of the up coming funeral for local residents and friends who may not otherwise be informed.

Pecuniary legacy

A pecuniary legacy pertains to the giving of money in a Will. It’s extant from other types of legacies. The money may be given to friend, family, organisation, or charity.

Personal Chattels

Personal chattels are items that have been owned by the testator, but that exclude money, securities, investments, business assets, or property. These items may include jewellery, art, household items, etc.

Power of Attorney

An attorney is appointed to another person by a living person who can no longer manage their own finances, or make healthcare decisions. Power of Attorney is one designation. They are appointed with a Lasting Power of Attorney or Enduring Power of Attorney document.

Probate

This is the legal procedure that occurs after a person has died. It authorises the administration of an Estate according to what has been laid out in the Will. It must be done for every person upon their death.

Probate Registry

This is a legal office, often located at the courthouse, where the Executor(s) must apply for permission to administer a deceased person’s Estate. It operates a lot like a court.

Protective Property Trust

This is done to protect a property in the event that one of the owner’s dies. Instead of the property passing to the survivor, such as in a joint trust, instead it is passed to a protective property trust rather than the surviving owner. Often it’s done for ancient or heritage properties.

Residual Beneficiaries

These are the beneficiaries that will benefit after all other gifts have been made, all debts, taxes, probate fees, administrative fees, and court costs have been made. They will benefit from any residual property that remains.

Residue/Residuary Estate

This is the property or assets that will remain in your Estate after all gifts have been done, and all debts, taxes, and fees have been paid.

Revoked

These are items that have been cancelled. They differ from items that have been altered. It means that an end may have been placed on certain items or decisions.

Settlement

This is in reference to a business trust. A business trustee will administer or control a trust that contains business assets. It may also involve a resolution between two or more disputing parties.

Settlor

This is the person who creates a trust. It may be so that their survivors can avoid paying Estate taxes in the future. They are doing it for the beneficiaries in a Will. Can also be known as a Trustor.

Severance of Tenancy (SOT)

When there are two or more joint tenants who own a property, they may be able to convert this form of property ownership to a tenancy in common. This means that each of the joint tenants will be able to leave their portion of the property to a designated beneficiary in their Wills.

Specific Legacy

There may be a specific legacy that is given to one particular beneficiary, rather than a generic legacy of all items. This is generally done when there are several beneficiaries in a Will, and the Testator wishes that each person gets a specific gift.

STEP Provisions

STEP is in reference to the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners. This is a provision that has a standard wording and has been approved by STEP. It is basically a guide of best practices for those who draft up Wills in England or Wales.

Survivor

A survivor is the last person within a marriage or a family who survives their relative dying. It can be a spouse, child, or other type of relative. Usually this designation is made within a Will.

Tenancies in Common

This is one of two ways that two or more people can own one property. The other is a joint tenancy. In a tenancy in common, each owner has an equal share of the property. Should one of them die then it will be left to the beneficiaries that they have designated in their Will.

Trust

It is an arrangement where the legal interest in the property is owned by trustees for someone else’s benefit. For example, a parent can set up a trust for a child in the event that the parent dies. The trustee will look after the child until they are an adult.

Trust Period

The is the period that the Trust can be active. At the end of the Trust period it must be wound up and distributed. For example, if it’s for a child, it may be paid out when they read the age of majority. A private trust has a maximum of 125 years.

Trustees

This can be one person, people, or an organisation that manages the trust. At the appropriate time they will pass the assets to the beneficiaries.

Will (Last Will and Testament)

Officially called the Last Will and Testament, it can also be shortened to just Will. This is a legal document that tells the Probate Court exactly how the deceased’s assets are to be distributed upon their death.

Will Witnesses

After the Testator has completed their Will, they must have two independent people who are required to witness and sign it. This is to confirm that they have also seen the Testator sign it. These two witnesses must be not benefit from the Will at all, nor be married or in a civil partnership with any person who will be benefiting from the Will.