Terms used in Wills and Probate

Administer

To collect the assets, pay all debts of the estate, and distribute the remainder to the Beneficiaries or Trustees 

Administrator

The person who deals with the estate of a person who has died intestate (without a Will)

Beneficiary

The person entitled to receive a gift from or share of the estate

Bequest

A gift of a particular object (e.g. wedding ring)

Domicile

Where a person considers their home country to be.

Estate

All the possessions of the person, who has died, including all houses and property, cars, investments, money and belongings, less their debts

Executor

The person appointed in the Will to deal with the estate of the person who has died

Execution of the Will

The signing and witnessing of the Will.

Grant of Letters of Administration

The document issued to the Administrators by the Probate Registry to authorise them to deal with the estate of the intestate 

Grant of Probate

The document issued to Executors by the Probate Registry to authorise them to deal with the estate

Grant of Representation

General word for applications for Probate or Letters of Administration.

Guardian

The person appointed by a parent or the court to have the parental responsibility for a child under the age of 18 years.

Inheritance Tax (IHT)

The tax that is to be paid when the total estate of a person who has died is more than the current tax threshold (for 2010/2011 this amount is £325,000) 

Intestate

A person who dies without having made a valid Will 

Issue

All the blood descendants of a person (children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and so on) 

Legacy

A gift of money (usually a specific amount)

Memorandum of Wishes

Where a gift in a Will is coupled with a (non-binding) wish that it is to be distributed in accordance with wishes set out separately elsewhere

Minor

A person under 18 years of age

Next of kin

The person/s entitled to the estate when a person dies intestate, in accordance with the Rules of Intestacy

Parental Responsibility

The rights and responsibilities that a parent has towards a child and their property 

Personal chattels

Personal belongings including jewellery, furniture, wine, pictures, books and cars, but not money, investments, property or business assets

Personal Representative

A general term for both Administrators and Executors 

Probate Registry

A court within the family division of the High Court, that deals with probate matters

Proving the Will

Making the application for probate to the Probate Registry

Residue

The remainder of the estate after all debts, funeral, and other expenses have been paid and legacies and bequests made 

Revoke

To cancel a Will legally

Testator

Person who makes a Will 

Transferrable Nil Rate Band                              

For Married couples or civil partners. On 2nd death to apply for the unused proportion of the Nil Rate Band on 1st death thus in effect having a Nil Rate Band of £625,000 on 2nd death

Trust Fund

Created by Will where assets are held for the benefit of beneficiaries for a specified period of time rather than being paid outright 

Trustee

Person appointed to manage a Trust Fund created by a Will