Learn about the complex terms used when discussing Wills and Probate
You’re unlikely to know the terminology used to discuss wills and probate; why would you? This complex jargon doesn’t come up in conversation on a day-to-day basis. However, here you can learn of the main terms that are used and what they mean so that you’re clued up for when you do have to think about wills and probate.
Administrator – Someone who is responsible for dealing with the financial affairs of a person who has died and a will does not exist.
Affidavit – A written paper, signed under oath that enables you to claim property as an inheritor.
Assets – Things that have value and have been left behind by the deceased person. These could include bank accounts, investments, land, property and other valuable possessions.
Attestation – The act of witnessing the signing of a will to confirm its authenticity.
Beneficiary – A person or organisation who will inherit from the will of the deceased person.
Bequeath – To leave or give money or property by will.
Bequest – A gift left in a will.
Chattels – Personal belongings in common law systems. Typically includes movable property such as cars, domestic animals, jewellery, furniture and any other tangible items that can be moved.
Codicil – A document that makes minor changes to a will without having to draft a new one.
Crown – The Treasury; part of the government. If the deceased person has no will and there is no family, the estate goes to the Crown.
Estate – This is the collective term for the assets and chattels that are owned.
Executor – Someone who has been appointed in the will to take care of the estate. Occasionally a female executor is called an executrix
Grant of Probate – A document which is issued to the executor that provides them with legal authority to deal with the deceased’s estate.
Inheritance Tax – Tax payable on the value of a person’s estate if it is worth over a certain amount when they die. The executor of the will or the administrator of the estate usually pays Inheritance Tax using funds from the estate.
Intestate – When a person died without a will in place.
Joint Tenancy – When a property is owned by more than one person. When one owner dies, the property is automatically passed over to the other owner.
Lasting Power of Attorney – A document in which you appoint a person to manage your financial and property affairs or your health and welfare decisions.
Probate – The legal process of administering someone’s estate when they die.
Residuary Estate – What is left of an estate after all bills and taxes have been paid.
Testator – The person who’s writing the will. Sometimes the term testatrix is used if the testator is female.
Trust – A legal arrangement where up to four people are made legally responsible for the assets left to the beneficiaries if they are under 18 years old.
Trustee – The person who manages the trust.
Will – A legal document that states a person wishes for their estate when they die.
Witness – A will must have two witnesses to the testator signing it. These witnesses must not be beneficiaries of the will or family members of beneficiaries.
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