Wills - What do the words mean?

Will writing involves the use of a lot of legal terminology. Knowing what some of the most common words and terms mean can help guide you through the necessary process of making a Will.


This is somebody who manages the financial affairs of the deceased where there is no Will. Normally the administrator is someone who is the next of kin.


This can be anything you own that is of value. This can include property. Beneficiary/Beneficiaries: Those who have been left money or other benefits in a Will.


A gift made in a Will to an individual or body.


The children of the deceased. This means illegitimate and adopted children but not stepchildren unless the Will includes provision for them.


This is a legal document that alters or adds to an existing Will and therefore needs to be kept with it. Like a Will, it also has to be witnessed.


When you die this is the total value of all your assets less any debts you might have.


This could be a person or an organisation like a bank or solicitor. The deceased has appointed them in their Will to deal with their financial affairs.

Grant of Probate:

This is the authority from the Court for the Executor to manage the financial affairs of the deceased.


Allows the deceased to make important arrangements in a Will for any children by appointing a guardian. They are responsible for managing and looking after the affairs of the deceased’s children.

Inheritance Tax

This involves paying tax on the value of an estate that is above a particular threshold.


If the deceased dies without making a will then he or she are said to have died intestate. This means that allocation of the estate is done according to an agreed set of rules.


This is a person or organisation to whom you leave a gift in your Will.

Letters of administration:

These are official documents from the court which confirm the person’s appointment as the administrator of the estate.

Life Interest:

This is a gift that allows a person or persons to receive either the income from an asset or the right to stay in a property for the duration of their life.

Personal Chattels

Unlike money or property, these are the personal effects of the deceased.


This is the legal process that needs to be followed after someone dies to ensure that the Will is valid. It gives the executors the power to deal with the estate.

Probate Registry:

This is a part of the Courts service that looks after the Wills and estates of those who have died.


Anything which the deceased owned.


After all the debts, specific bequests and legacies have been paid this is what is left of the estate to be shared out.


This is a list of all of the assets included in a trust or Will.


This is the person who has made the Will.


This is an arrangement that allows trustees to own and manage property on behalf of someone else.


This is a legal document that defines what the deceased wants to happen to their estate after they die.


These are two people who are independent and do not benefit from the Will. Their role is to sign the Will to confirm that they have seen the Testator signing it.

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