This page defines the words often used when talking about Wills and legacy gifts.
A person appointed when either no Will can be found or there is no executor to carry out the intentions of the Will.
Generally the property owned by the person who died. For example, a house, household goods, savings, investments, a car, etc.
Someone who is entitled to receive a specific gift, sum of money or share of the estate.
A gift left in a Will.
A gift on which Inheritance Tax may be payable.
Any item of personal property that can be moved from place to place. This includes contents of a house, furniture, belongings or a car.
A document that amends (rather than replaces) a Will. Codicils can adversely affect a Will, altering, cancelling or adding provisions to it. It is more common to re-write the whole Will. It must abide by the same legal requirements as the original Will (such as the signature of the testator). And it must also have two witnesses who do not benefit from the Will in any way.
A gift which only takes effect if a specific condition is met on your death. For example, "If my brother is married at the time of my death, my house should go to him. If he is unmarried, it should instead go to my sister."
Confirmation of the Estate (Scotland)
This document validates a Will and confirms to executors that they have authority to act.
A gift by Will of freehold property.
A payment made to a third party.
All the assets you own, minus the value of any debts that you owe.
A person or persons appointed in the Will to administer the estate.
Grant of probate (England, Wales and Northern Ireland)
This is the legal document that may be required to administer the Estate of someone who has died. With this document, Executors of the estate can then deal with all their legal, tax and administrative duties.
Someone appointed to look after the interests of a child under the age of 18 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland or under 16 in Scotland.
Tax payable when the estate is over the current inheritance threshold (currently £325,000).
A person who has died and not left a legally valid will.
A gift of a specific item or cash sum left in a Will (except property).
Someone who has left a legacy in their Will.
Letters of administration
A document given by the Registrar to appoint people to handle a person's estate. This document is used when:
- There is no Will
- No executors were appointed in the Will
- No executors are still living
- No executors are willing to carry out executor's duties
Financial obligations (such as debts or tax bills) which may need to be settled by your estate after your death.
The right to enjoy for life (or until a specified time period has elapsed or an event has occurred). This can be either money or property which will eventually revert to the original estate in some way on death. Instructions are usually included in the original deceased's Will as to what should happen to the gift when the life interest ends.
This type of Will allows allows you to express your wishes to refuse medical treatment in future. They would become relevant if there came a time when you were unable to make or communicate your own decisions. Living Wills are separate from the type of Will written to express your wishes for your estate after you pass away. Living Wills are also known as an 'Advance Decision'.
This is when a husband, wife or partner make almost identical Wills. For example, leaving everything to each other should one partner die. Or, if both die together, to another agreed beneficiary.
Anything other than buildings or land.
A gift of money under a Will.
A personal representative is the executor or administrator managing the deceased's estate
Potentially exempt transfer (PET)
A gift in a Will that is exempt from Inheritance Tax if the donor lives for another 7 years after making the gift.
Someone who dies before the person who has made the Will.
Probate is the entire process of administering a dead person’s estate. It involves paying any taxes and debts, as well as organising their assets and distributing them as inheritance.
A share, percentage or sometimes all, of an estate after all the other payments have been made. One of the advantages of a residuary gift is that it doesn't lose value over time. If you leave a proportion to us, you can still ensure other beneficiaries are provided for first.
Everything that is left in the estate after all the liabilities, tax, costs and legacies have been paid.
A person entitled to the residue.
Benefit from a trust property.
This type of Will is written for just one person. But you can write a Single Will if you are in a relationship, married or in a civil partnership. In fact, if your partner already has a Will or their wishes differ to yours then a Single Will is often your best option.
A gift of a particular item, such as property, antiques, jewellery and shares.
The person (male/female) who makes the Will.
Trusts are legal entities that allow someone to benefit from an asset without being the legal owner.
The trustee manages the trust on behalf of the 'beneficiaries' - those who receive the income of the trust.
Variation, deed of
A legal document that allows the beneficiaries to change the terms of a Will, even after the person's death.
A legal document by which a person states what they want to happen to their estate following their death.