Probate terms

Wills & Probate Terms – Jargon.

Administrator: the personal representative when not appointed by a valid will (when they would be called the Executor.

Affidavit: declaration in writing made upon oath before someone who is authorised to administer oaths.

Assets: the parts of an estate: the total assets are the whole estate.

Beneficiary: person (or persons) who will benefit from a Last Will.

Bequest: gift of a particular item or cash (as opposed to ‘devise’, which means land or buildings). Also known as a legacy

Chattels: personal belongings, eg jewellery, furniture, wine, pictures, books, even cars and horses not used for business. Does not include money or investments.

Codicil: document altering an existing will.

Contingent: where an event must happen before a gift can be made, eg the beneficiary must reach 21 before any payment can be made.

Demise: grant of a lease.

Devise: gift of house or land.

Enduring power of attorney: a form that authorises someone to act on another’s behalf.

Estate: all the assets and property of the deceased, including houses, cars, investments, money and personal belongings. In this context it doesn’t mean a country estate.

Executor: name given to a personal representative if he or she is appointed by a valid will or codicil.

Grant of probate: document issued by the probate registry to the executors of a will to authorise them to administer the estate.

Guardian: person who would become responsible for your children in the event of your death before your children are 18 years old.

Inheritance tax (IHT): tax that may be payable when the total estate of the deceased person exceeds a set threshold (subject to various exemptions and adjustments).

Intestate: person who dies without making a will.

Lasting Power of Attorney: modern version of an Enduring Power of Attorney.  Click the link for more information.

Legacy: gift of money or object.

Letters of administration: document issued by the probate registry to the administer the estate of an intestate person.

Life interest: gift that gives someone the right to income from an asset or the right to occupation of a property for the duration of their life after which the asset or property passes to someone else (known as the remainderman).

Minor: person under 18 years of age.

Next of kin: person/s entitled to the estate when a person dies intestate.

Personal estate or personalty: all the investments and belongings of a person apart from land and buildings.

Personal representative: a general term for both administrators and executors.

Prior rights: rights to the house, its furnishings and a cash sum. Except in the case of larger estates, where intestacy is rare, prior rights often mean that the surviving spouse inherits the entire estate.

Probate of the will: document issued to executors by a probate registry in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to authorise them to administer the estate.

Probate registry: Government office that deals with probate matters. The Principal Probate Registry is in London with district registries in cities and some large towns.

Real estate or realty: land and buildings owned by a person.

Residue: what is left of the estate to share out after all the debts and specific bequests and legacies have been paid.

Solvent estate: when the value of the assets exceeds debts and liabilities.

Testator: person whose Last Will it is.

Trustee/s: person/s responsible for administering a trust.

Will: in full, the Last Will and Testament, the document in which you say what is to happen to your possessions on your death.

Feel free to email us via our contact form and we’ll add any definitions to the page.  We try not to speak in jargon, but it is hard to avoid it entirely!

Probate terms – Jargon