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Glossary of Terms

Absolute – Given without any condition

Administrator – A person appointed by the Probate Registry in the absence of a Will being found or a person who is appointed by the Registry to prove a Will, if there is no executor

Attestation or attestation clause – a statement made at the end of a Will above the signatures to the witnesses, which declares that the Will has been duly signed in the presence of the witnesses, who attest the Will and sign it in the presence of the Testator, and each other

Attorney – a person appointed in a Lasting Power of Attorney who can manage the affairs of a person (donor) who is unable to manage their affairs themselves

Beneficiary – a person who inherits (benefits) under a Will

Bequest – a gift given in a Will, normally a personal possession or a monetary gift

Codicil – a formal legal document to update an existing Will

Deed of variation – allows the beneficiaries of an estate to vary by mutual agreement the provisions of a Will within a period of two years from the date of the deceased’s death

Devise and bequeath – a gift by Will or codicil

Distribution – the process of dealing with an estate after receiving a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration. After paying any debts and funeral expenses and to divide the remainder of the estate between the beneficiaries.

Executor – a person appointed by Will to deal with the estate. An executor cannot charge a fee unless previously authorised by the Will, however an executor is able to reclaim out of pocket expenses. An Executrix is a female Executor.

Grant of Probate – This is a document, which confirms the Executor has the power to administer an estate

Guardian – a person who is legally responsible for caring for a minor child (under the age of 18 years

Holograph Will – a Will entirely in the handwriting of the Testator

Intestate – this is when someone dies without leaving a legally valid Will and the Rules of Intestacy will then apply to their estate

Joint tenant – this term is used when two or more persons jointly own a property and when one of the people dies, that share passes to the surviving joint tenant or tenants.

Legacy – a gift of money (pecuniary legacy) or personal possession left in a Will

Life interest – the right to the benefit for life of either money or property and then reverts to the testator’s estate when the life tenant dies

Life tenant – the person who benefits from a life interest in a Will

Personal chattels – are defined by the Administration of Estates Act 1925 s55 and includes general items such as jewellery, clothing, articles of household or personal use or ornament (but does not include money)

Personal representative – the person who is appointed by the Probate Court to deal with a deceased persons estate in a Grant of Representation

Probate – is a document issued by the Probate Court and allows the executors to administer a deceased person’s estate

Residue – the remainder of a deceased’s estate after any legacies have been paid and all debts, taxes and expenses have been paid

Tenants in common – a way for two or more people to own a property, each person owns a share which will then form part of their estate

Testator – the person making a Will (a Testatrix is a female person making a Will)

Trustee – a person who holds property on behalf of another person and who is committed to the administration of a trust.

Witnesses – to make a Will legally valid it must be signed and dated by the Testator/ Testatrix in the presence of two witnesses (who must not be a beneficiary or married to a beneficiary in the Will).