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Home / Glossary

Glossary of terms

Administration

The process of dealing with an estate is referred to as administration where a person has not left a will.

Administrator

An administrator is a person appointed to deal with the estate of a person where no executor has been appointed or where an executor has been appointed but is unwilling to take on the role.

Advance directive / Advance decisions

An advance directive is a statement setting out what medical treatments a person would not wish to receive at a future point in their life. Advance directives are sometimes referred to as living wills or advance decisions.

Asset

The term asset is used to describe any property, money or belongings owned by a person.

Attestation

For a will to be valid the testator’s signature must be witnessed. This process is known as attestation. Most wills contain an attestation clause which is a form of wording which demonstrates that the will has been properly witnessed.

Attorney

The term attorney is used to describe a person who has been appointed under a lasting power of attorney or an enduring power of attorney.

Beneficiary

A beneficiary is a person who stands to inherit from an estate or who inherits from an estate.

Bequest

A bequest is a gift left in a will.

Codicil

A Codicil is a document which amends or changes a will.

Deceased

The term deceased is used to describe a person who has died.

Deed of trust

A deed of trust is a document which creates a trust. Deeds of trust are sometimes referred to as trust deeds or trust instruments.

Deed of variation

A deed of variation is a legal document which changes the distribution of assets under a will after the death of the testator or which varies the distribution of the deceased’s estate when they die intestate.

A deed of variation is also commonly known as a deed of family arrangement or an instrument of variation.

Discretionary trust

A discretionary trust is a type of trust under which the settlor gives the trustees the discretion as to how to use the income generated by the trust, and sometimes the capital. Sometimes a discretionary trust will give the trustees the power to add the income to the capital. This power is known as the power to accumulate income.

Enduring power of attorney

An enduring power of attorney is a legal document in which a person is appointed to make decisions relating to another person’s property and financial affairs on their behalf.

Enduring powers of attorney have been replaced by “lasting powers of attorney”, although any enduring power of attorney made and signed before 1 October 2007 can still be used.

Estate

An estate consists of the property and other assets owned by a person at the time of their death.

Executor / executrix

An executor/ executrix is a person appointed, in a will, to deal with the estate of a testator when they die. A person so appointed is referred to as an executor if they are a male or an executrix if they are a female.

Express trust

An express trust is a type of trust. An express trust is created when a settler expressly creates a trust. Express trusts are commonly created in wills or in a legal document known as deed of trust (sometimes called a trust deed or a trust instrument).

Grant of letters of administration

A grant of letters of administration gives to a person the power to deal with an estate where the deceased has not left a valid will.

Grant of probate

A grant of probate gives an executor the power to deal with an estate.

Grant of representation

A grant of representation gives to a person the power to deal with an estate. There are two types of grant of representation – a grant of letters of administration and a grant of probate.

Guardian

A guardian is a person appointed to look after the children under the age of 18 of a deceased person.

Health and welfare lasting power of attorney

A health and welfare lasting power of attorney is a type of lasting power of attorney. Under a health and welfare lasting power of attorney an attorney is granted the power to make decisions about a person’s health and welfare.

Immoveable property

Immoveable property refers to property that cannot be physically moved and includes buildings and land.

Inheritance Tax

Inheritance Tax is a tax which is payable in certain circumstances when a person dies.

Intestacy

Where a person dies without having made a valid will their estate is distributed in accordance with the rules of intestacy. The rules of intestacy set out who is entitled to inherit from an estate and what they are entitled to inherit.

Intestate

Where a person dies without having made a valid will they are said to have died intestate. Their estate will be distributed in accordance with the rules of intestacy.

Joint tenants / Joint tenancy

Where property is owned jointly the co-owners are known either as joint tenants or tenants in common and the property is held as a joint tenancy or a tenancy in common.

Where property is owned by joint tenants upon the death of one of the owners their share passes automatically to the other joint tenant or tenants. This is the case even if the owner has made a will purporting to leave his or her share of the property to another person.

Joint will

A joint will is a will made by two or more testators contained in a single document.

Lasting power of attorney

A lasting power of attorney is a legal document in which a person is appointed to make decisions on another person’s behalf.

There are two types of lasting power of attorney, a health and welfare lasting power of attorney and a property and financial affairs lasting power of attorney.

Legacy

A legacy is a specific gift made in a will to a specific beneficiary or beneficiaries.

Life interest

A life interest is a right given to a person to enjoy for life, or until a specified time period has elapsed or a certain event has occurred, assets. After the death of the person granted the life interest the assets revert to the estate of the person who granted the life interest.

Living will

A living will is a statement setting out what medical treatments a person would not wish to receive at a future point in their life. Living wills are sometimes referred to as advance directives or advance decisions.

Moveable property

Moveable property refers to property that can be physically moved and includes any assets other than buildings and land.

Mutual will

Mutual wills are wills where two or more testators make separate wills or make a joint will and in doing so agree to confer on each other reciprocal benefits or agree to confer benefits on the same beneficiaries.

Personal representative

A personal representative is a person appointed to deal with an estate. There are two types of personal representative, an executor and an administrator.

Power of attorney

A power of attorney is a legal document in which a person is appointed to make decisions on another person’s behalf.

There are two types of power of attorney, a lasting power of attorney and an enduring power of attorney.

Probate

The process of dealing with an estate is referred to as probate where a person has left a will.

Property and financial lasting power of attorney

A property and financial lasting power of attorney is a type of lasting power of attorney. Under a property and financial lasting power of attorney an attorney is granted the power to make decisions about a person’s property and financial affairs.

Residue

The residue of an estate is anything which is left over once specific legacies and bequests have been made and any debts, taxes and expenses have been paid.

Renouncing probate

If an executor is appointed in a will but does not wish to take on the role he or she can renounce probate.

Revocation

If a testator makes a fresh will any previous wills made by him or her are normally revoked (cancelled). A will will normally be revoked automatically when a person marries or enters into a civil partnership. A will will also be revoked if it is intentionally destroyed by the testator.

Secret trust

A secret trust is a type of trust. A trust is secret if an intended beneficiary under the trust is not named in the deed of trust or will.

Settlor

A settlor is a person who places their assets into a trust.

Tenants in common / Tenancy in common

Where property is owned jointly the co-owners are known either as joint tenants or tenants in common and the property is held as a joint tenancy or a tenancy in common.

Where property is owned by tenants in common each co-owner is free to leave his or her share of the property to who ever they wish.

Testator / Testatrix

A testator / testatrix is a person who makes a will. A person is referred to as a testator if they are a male and a testatrix if they are a female.

Trust

A trust is a legal arrangement used to protect assets, such as land, buildings or money for the benefit of the beneficiaries to the trust.

Trustee

A trustee is a person appointed under a trust. Trustees are legally responsible for the trust property and are required to manage the trust and carry out the wishes of the person whose assets were placed into trust.

Trust property

The term trust property is used to refer to the assets held under a trust.

Will

A will is a document made by a testator setting out how they would wish their estate to be distributed upon their death. Executors are normally appointed in a will. Trustees and Guardians may also be appointed in a will. A will may create a trust and may contain a testator’s funeral wishes.

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