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Wills FAQ Book

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.

Related Links

Trusts FAQs
Lasting Power Of Attorney FAQs
Online Wills