Wills and Probate – A Glossary of Terms

Administrator – a person appointed by the Court to administer an estate where the deceased didn’t leave a will or if the persons appointed to act under the will are unable or unwilling to do so. 

Beneficiary – someone who inherits under a will or intestacy. 

Bequest – a gift left in a Will.

Codicil – a document that amends (rather than replaces) a Will. Codicils can adversely affect a will, altering, cancelling or adding provisions to it. It is therefore more common to re-write the whole Will. It must conform to the same legal requirements as the original Will (such as the signature of the testator) and have two witnesses who do not benefit from the Will in any way.

Executor – a person appointed by a Will to administer an estate.

Executrix – a female executor.

Grant of Probate – legal document confirming an executor’s authority to deal with an estate.

Grant of Letters of Administration – legal document confirming an Administrators’ authority to deal with an estate.

Guardian – someone appointed under a will to look after children under the age of eighteen.

Inheritance Tax Threshold – the amount above which Inheritance Tax will become due. If the value of the estate falls below this threshold (taking into account lifetime gifts etc.) no Inheritance Tax will be due.

Intestacy Rules – the formal rules laid down by statute setting out who is entitled to deal with and benefit from an estate where the deceased did not make a will.

Intestate – someone who dies without making a will. The deceased’s estate will be dealt with under the Intestacy laws.

Personal Representative – person appointed to deal with an estate. If they are appointed by a Will they are known as an Executor. Where there is no will they are appointed by the Court and are known as an Administrator.

Potentially exempt transfer (PET) – a gift made during one’s lifetime that is exempt from Inheritance Tax if the donor lives for seven years after making the gift.

Residuary Estate – the deceased’s estate after all assets have been collected in and debts paid.

Testator/Testatrix – person who makes a will.

Trust – where one or more people (trustees) hold property on behalf of others (beneficiaries).

Will – A legal document that sets out what you want to happen to your property and the rest of your estate upon death.

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