Wills and Probate Vocabulary

Final Duties have put together a list of commonly used Wills and Probate vocabulary.

Administrator – A person who is appointed by the court to undertake the administration of an estate when there is no valid will, no executors are named on the Will, or the named executors do not want or are unable to act.

Attorney – Someone who was making decisions and acting on behalf of the deceased and whilst they were alive under a lasting power of attorney.

Assets – Everything that a person owned this can include property, money, shares and possessions, these assets make up are person’s estate.

Beneficiary – A person, institution or charity that is to receive something from the deceased’s estate.

Bequest – A gift that is given to someone under the terms of the Will.

Caveat – A probate caveat is a document filed with the court to put a hold on or prevent an application of probate being granted.

Civil Partnership – A registered civil partnership provides legal recognition for a same-sex relationship providing you with added legal rights and responsibility.

Codicil – A legal document used to amend, update, or make changes to an existing Will.

Contentious Probate – A dispute about the Will of a deceased and/or in the way in which the will is being executed.

Coroner – An official whose responsibility is to identify and confirm the cause death.

Court of protection – A superior court that specialises in applications for deputyships and other matters related to mental capacity.

Deed of variation – A legal document written after death to change the wishes of a deceased’s Will.

Donor – The person who is giving power of attorney to someone else so that, that person can make decisions on their behalf.

Enduring power of attorney – Replaced by a Lasting power of attorney on the 1st of October 2007 but EPAs signed before then are still considered valid.

Estate – The sum of a person’s assets, this includes everything a person owned.

Executor – A person who has been named in a legally valid will with the duty of administering the Estate.

Exemption – Specific gifts or transfers that are exempt from inheritance tax.

Grant of confirmation – The Scottish equivalent to a grant of probate.

Grant of Probate – An official document that confirms the executor or administrators legal right to access the assets of a deceased in order to distribute them according to the wishes in the Will or law.

Grant of representation – A different term used for the Grant of probate or letters of Administration that confirms the executors or administrators authority to deal with the estate.

Inheritance tax allowance/threshold  – The specified amount of an estate that is non-taxable, any amount over the threshold is eligible to be taxed. The current threshold is set at £325,000.

Intestate/Intestacy– Dying without a valid Will.

Joint tenants – The term used to describe two or more people owning an asset together as a whole.

Lasting power of attorney – A legal document that allows the ‘donor’ to designate another person with the right and responsibility of making decisions on the donors behalf.

Legacy – A specific gift given to a named beneficiary in the Will.

Letters of administration – An official document confirming the writes of an Administrator to administer an estate when there is no valid Will.

Nil-rate band – Another name for the Inheritance tax allowance/ threshold. It is the amount of an estate that is exempt from inheritance tax. Any amount over the threshold is eligible to pay inheritance tax. Currently the threshold is set at £325,000.

Pecuniary legacies – Also known as a pecuniary bequest is a gift of a specified sum of money to a named beneficiary in the Will.

Personal Representative – Refers to the person who is responsible for the administration of an estate this can be used to describe both an executor and administrator.

Power reserved – Refers to an executor reserving their right to administer the estate in favour for another executor to proceed in obtaining probate, whilst still allowing the executor with power reserved to step forward if they wish to.

Probate – The process of applying for a grant of probate through the courts in order to confirm their legal right to administer an Estate.

Probate Registry/Office – A specialist department of the HM courts that deals with Wills and estates.

Register office – The place where the deceased death would be registered, normally within 5 days of death.

Renunciation  – The term used when an executor releases the right to administer an estate either in favour of another executor or because they are unwilling or unable to perform the role.

Residential nil rate band – An additional nil-rate band allowance of £100,000 when a property is left to a deceased’s children.

Residual/Residuary beneficiary – A beneficiary named in the Will that will receive the remainder of an estate, the residue.

Residue – Whatever is left of a deceased estate after inheritance tax, debts, legacies and administration fees are deducted.

Rules of Intestacy – The law that dictates the order of priority among potential beneficiaries of an estate where there is no Will.

Specific Bequest – A gift of a specific possession given to a named beneficiary in the Will.

Taper relief – The system used to determine the rate at which inheritance tax is charged on gifts given by the deceased in the 7 years prior to their death.

Tenants in common – A term used to describe 2 or more people owning a specific share percentage of an asset.

Testator – A person who has written a last Will and testament that should be actioned upon their death.

Trust – A trust allows for assets to be passed onto to someone while you are alive or under the terms of a Will. The assets will be passed under passed under a specific set of conditions that are outlined in the terms of the trust.

Will – A legal document dictating who should administer your estate upon your death and who will be benefiting from your estate.

Witness – A person who was present at the creation of a will ensuring that the Will was created under the correct legal circumstances.

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