Wills and Trusts Glossary
Wills & Trusts Commonly Used Terms
ADMINISTRATOR – Someone who is appointed by law to deal with the affairs of a person who has died. An administrator could be appointed because the person who died did not have a Will. Or they had a Will but did not appoint an Executor or the person appointed as Executor does not wish to act.
ASSENT – a Legal term for when a property is transferred by Executors to a Beneficiary or Trustee.
ATTESTATION – The Signing of a Will in the presence of two independent witnesses.
BENEFICIARY – A person or charity who is named to benefit from a Will or Trust.
BEQUEST – A gift in a Will of money or personal possessions.
CODICIL – A legal document that makes small minor amendments or changes to an existing Will.
DEED OF VARIATION – Allows a beneficiary who is in receipt of an inheritance to vary the inheritance they have received within in two years of the death of the donor.
DEVISE – A disposition of real property in a Will.
DONEE – The person receiving a gift from a Will.
DONOR – A person making a gift in a Will.
ESTATE – Everything owned by the deceased at the time of their death.
EXECUTOR – A male person appointed in a Will to administer the estate and carry out the wishes as stated in the Will.
EXECUTRIX – a Female form of an Executor.
GRANT OF PROBATE – Confirms that an Executor has the power to administer the deceased estate.
GUARDIAN – A person appointed by Will to look after any minor children.
INTESTATE or INTESTACY – Both terms refer to the Laws which determine who would benefit from an estate if the deceased person did not make a Will.
ISSUE – Means Children including adopted and illegitimate children or grandchildren.
JOINT TENANTS – A type of property ownership. For example, a couple purchases a property together on a joint tenants basis, If a joint owner subsequently dies then the surviving owner automatically becomes the owner of 100% of the property through survivor-ship law. If a property is owned on a beneficial joint tenants basis then the Will of the deceased does not control where the deceased share is distributed.
LEGACY – Legacies are gifts of specific monetary amounts or specific property or items left to someone in a Will. These are paid after the debts of the estate are settled and before the residue is distributed.
LEGATEE – A person who receives a Legacy.
LETTERS OF ADMINISTRATION – A legal document which is issued by the Probate Registry to the administrator of the estate of a person who has died without making a Will.
PECUNIARY BEQUEST – A fixed sum of Money gifted in a Will.
PERSONAL CHATTELS – Are movable personal items. For example jewellery, furniture, clothing and cars.
PROBATE – Probate is the process of proving a Will. The Executor or administrator undertakes this role establishing the estate value and the person(s) to benefit from the estate. It is a process that is required if the estate is valued in excess of £5,000.
RESIDUE or RESIDUARY ESTATE – The residue of an estate includes everything left over which has not been gifted elsewhere in a will and after all debts, funeral expenses, all legacies and tax have been paid.
TENANTS IN COMMON – A type of property ownership whereby two or more people own a defined share of a property. Owning property on this basis allows a deceased persons share to be directed by their Will.
TESTAMENTARY DISPOSITIONS – Any legal document regarding the distribution of an estate after death.
TESTATOR – A male person who makes a Will.
TESTATRIX – A female person who makes a Will.
TRUSTEE – A person appointed to look after any part of an estate that is left under the terms of a trust. A trustee becomes the legal owner of the Trust and is legally bound to look after the property of the trust in a particular way and for a particular purpose.
VESTED INTEREST – When a person meets all conditions of a gift and is entitled to that gift absolutely, they attain a vested interest.
WITNESS – A witness is someone who is over 18 and of sound mind that can sign to say they where present when the Will was signed. For a Will to be legally valid it must be signed by two witnesses who are both present at the time of signing. A witness should be totally independent and not be a beneficiary of the Will.