Learn about the complex terms used when discussing 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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