Probate Glossary

Administrators
In England and Wales, the personal representatives appointed when the deceased dies intestate or where there are no personal representatives able or willing to act.
Executor (or executrix, if female)
Under English law, a person aged 18 or over and under Scottish law, a person aged 16 or over.
Assent
Document in England & Wales whereby land or buildings are transferred to a beneficiary of an estate.
Attestation clause
The clause at the end of a Will declaring the date and place of signing and the names and designations of the witness or witnesses.
Beneficial joint tenants
In England & Wales, joint holders of property who are treated as a single unit.
Beneficial tenants in common
In England & Wales, joint holders of property with individual shares in the property.
Beneficiary
A person who receives all or part of an estate under a Will. A beneficiary may also be a person who receives payment from a life insurance policy or a trust.
Bequeath
To leave money or property (other than land) to someone in a Will.
Bequest
A gift of money or property in a Will.
Cancellation by extinction
A bequest is cancelled because the gift is no longer owned at the time of death.
Cancellation by satisfaction
A bequest is cancelled because the deceased has already given the gift to the beneficiary during their lifetime.
Capacity
Competence to enter into a legally binding agreement.
Child
Legitimate, illegitimate or adopted child of a parent (excludes stepchild).
Codicil
A document that modifies some provision of a Will but doesn't revoke it.
Confirmation
In Scotland, the court order giving an executor-nominate or executor-dative the right to deal with the deceased’s assets.
Delegate
To grant authority to a person to act on behalf of another person.
Devises
In English law, gifts of land made in a Will. This is an old-fashioned phrase but it will still occasionally be used in a Will.
Disclaim
To refuse or renounce a right or authority.
Dispone
In Scotland, to transfer or give.
Disponee
In Scotland, a person to whom any property is legally transferred.
Docket
In Scotland, an authenticating endorsement note on a document.
Docket on confirmation
The docket used in Scotland to transfer the title of a dwellinghouse or land or buildings to the beneficiary of an estate.
Encumbrance
Usually a mortgage or charge upon property securing the payment of a debt or other liability.
Estate
All the property belonging to a person (at death, in Scotland).
Execute
To sign or otherwise complete the formalities of a legal document.
Executor (or executrix, if female)
A person named in a Will to manage the deceased’s estate and to ensure that a testator’s wishes are carried out and the Will followed. For Scotland, see Executor Nominate.
Executor-dative
In Scotland, a person appointed by the court to manage the estate of a deceased person when there is no Executor Nominate.
Executor-nominate
In Scotland a person named in a Will to manage the deceased’s estate.
General legacy
A gift of money or shares paid from the general assets of the estate.
Grant of letters of administration
In England & Wales, the official document obtained by administrators of an estate on an intestacy, showing that they have the legal authority to deal with the deceased’s property.
Grant of letters of administration with Will annexed
In England & Wales, the official document obtained by administrators where there is a Will, but the personal representatives named are unwilling or unable to act, showing they have the legal authority to deal with the deceased’s property.
Grant of probate
In England & Wales, a court order giving an executor the legal right to deal with the deceased’s assets.
Guardian
A person with parental responsibility for a minor child.
Informant
The person who registers a death.
Inheritance tax
A tax imposed on a person’s estate upon death and in some cases on gifts during the person’s lifetime.
Insolvent estate
An estate where the debts of the deceased and other liabilities of the estate, including funeral and administration expenses, exceed the value of assets of the estate.
Intestacy rules
The rules which govern the distribution of property belonging to a person who dies intestate.
Intestate
Dying without leaving a valid Will.
Issue
All of the children, grandchildren and remoter descendants of a person, whether born within or outside marriage, including adopted children.
Joint property
Property owned jointly with another person or persons.
Joint tenancy
In English law, a way of holding property jointly whereby when one of the joint owners dies, their share passes automatically to the other joint owner.
Legacy
Usually a gift of money in a Will.
Legal rights
In Scotland, the claims which the surviving spouse and/or issue have to share in the deceased’s estate, whether or not the deceased died intestate.
Legatee
A person entitled to a legacy under a Will.
Letters of administration
In English law, similar to grant of probate but used when there is a Will but no acting personal representatives or there is no Will.
Life estate
An interest in an estate or income from a trust containing that estate that is limited to the life of the beneficiary.
Life interest
Entitlement to income for life under a trust. When the person with a life interest dies, the property is not distributed in accordance with their Will or intestacy but is dealt with in accordance with the Will of the person who set up the trust.
Liferent
In Scottish law, a life interest.
Llmited power
An authority that is restricted to specified acts or type of acts, or to a specified time period.
Minor
Under English law, a person under the age of 18 and under Scottish law, a person under the age of 16.
Mortgage
A loan secured on land.
Nominated property
Property which the deceased has nominated a particular person to receive after their death (certain National Savings investments and government stock only).
Obtaining probate or obtaining confirmation
The process of proving the validity of a Will and the personal representatives’ authority to manage the estate.
Pecuniary legacy
A gift of money in a Will.
Personal representatives
The generic term for an executor for the estate of a deceased person who left a Will or the administrator of an intestate estate (where there is no Will).
Per stirpes
In Scotland, division between a number of beneficiaries according to branches of the family, as opposed to equally among all the beneficiaries.
Power reserved
In England & Wales, an executor can reserve their right to apply to for a grant of probate at a later date on a form issued by the Probate Registry .
Public Guardian
The Government Officer appointed to deal with Lasting Powers of Attorney in England and Wales, and Continuing Powers of Attorney or Welfare Powers of Attorney in Scotland.
Ratification
Confirmation of an act or of the validity of an act.
Registered land
Land or buildings, the ownership of which is registered at HM Land Registry.
Residuary beneficiary
A beneficiary who receives the residue of an estate or part of it.
A gift of residue made in a Will.
A gift of residue made in a Will.
Residuary legatee
A person who receives all or part of the residue of a person’s estate.
Residue
The remainder of an estate after the deduction of tax, debts, specific gifts, legacies and the expenses of administration.
Resign
In Scotland, to refuse or renounce a right of authority.
Revoke
To take back, withdraw or cancel.
Specific legacy or specific gift
A gift of a particular item of property in a Will.
Statute
An Act of Parliament.
Statutory Declaration
A form completed in the presence of a solicitor or other officer of the court confirming that the person making the declaration is entitled to deal with the estate.
Substitutional beneficiary
A person designated as a beneficiary in case another beneficiary has died or fails to survive for a specified period or fails to reach a specified age.
Survivorship clause
A clause in a Will stating what is to happen to property on a failure of a nominated beneficiary to survive.
Tenancy in common
In English law, a state of joint ownership in which each person owns a percentage of the property.
Testator (or testatrix, if female)
A person who makes a Will.
Testing clause
In Scotland, the clause at the end of a Will declaring the date and place of signing and the names and designations of the witness or witnesses.
Title
Ownership.
Trust
An arrangement under which a person or persons (the trustee or trustees) hold and manage property (which can be money, shares, land, etc.) for the benefit of another person or persons (the trust beneficiary or beneficiaries).
Unregistered land
Land or buildings, the ownership of which is not registered at HM Land Registry.
Will
A legal document which sets out the wishes of the testator for the distribution of their estate and certain other matters after their death.
Witness
A person who signs a Will to signify that they saw the testator sign it.

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