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Legalese explained

Confused by legal mumbo jumbo? The jargon can be confusing so here is our A-Z guide to shed some light on the key terms linked to wills, estate administration and elderly care.


 means managing of the affairs (estate) of a person who has died. This includes collection and distribution of an estate’s assets as stated in a will or, when no will exists, according to testacy rules.

Administration period
 is the time taken from the date of death to completion of an estate’s administration.

 is the person appointed by law to administer an estate when someone dies without a will.

 include everything owned by a person who has died. If that person is domiciled in England and Wales, their assets worldwide will be included in their estate.

 is the witnessing of a signature

 is a person entitled to a share of an estate.

 is a gift of a particular object or cash as opposed to land or buildings.

Capital gains tax
 (CGT) is a tax on profit made on the sale of an asset.

Certificate provider
 is the person chosen to verify that someone undertaking a lasting power of attorney has acted independently and not been unduly influenced. The provider can be a professional such as a doctor or solicitor or someone who has known the donor for more than two years.

Chargeable gift
 is given in a will on which tax may have to be paid.

are movable personal property not used for business such as a TV, sofa, cooker, jewellery, wine, pictures - and even cars and horses.

 covers all legitimate children (parents married at time of birth), illegitimate children (parents not married at time of birth), legitimated children (parents not married at time of birth but do so later), and adopted children.

 is an addition or change made to your will - it has to be signed and witnessed in the same way as your will.

 is a doctor or lawyer responsible for investigating deaths, who will in certain cases issue an interim death certificate pending any investigations into a person’s death.

Court of Protection governs and supervises applications for a person to be appointed a court deputy.

Deed of Variation is 
a document which alters a will or the provisions of intestacy after a person has died.

Discretionary trust
 is where a trustee has full power to decide when and which members of a group of Beneficiaries are to receive their capital.

 is a person appointed by the Court of Protection to manage a persons affairs when they are unable to do so themselves.

 is a person making a Lasting Power of Attorney.

 describes the real and personal property, money, investments, savings and personal possessions of a person who has died

Legalese explained! is the person appointed in a will to administer an estate. You can have a maximum of four executors. Executors can be a beneficiary to a will.

Grant of Letters of Administration
 is a legal document issued by the probate registry, which allows administrators to administer the estate. A grant is issued where a person dies without a will or where a will exists but the executors may have died or be unable to act as an executor.

Grant of Probate
 is a legal document issued by the probate registry to appoint the executor(s) named in the will as the person(s) legally able to address the administration of the estate.

Grant of Representation
 is a high court order to obtain a grant of probate or grant of administration; and the personal representative is then free to administer and distribute the estate.

Guardian is the individual appointed under a will to look after the minor children of the deceased person.

Inheritance tax
 (IHT) describes the tax that may be payable on an estate when someone dies.

 is the situation when a person dies without making a will; specific laws then determine who benefits from an estate.

 describes a person who dies without a will.

 means “living”, direct bloodline descendants.

Lasting Power of Attorneys (LPA)
 is a legal document registered with the Office of the Public Guardian that appoints a person to manage another person’s property and financial affairs and personal welfare.

 is a gift left in a will, and there are generally three types:

  1. A specific legacy is a specific property or object such as “my car”;
  2. A pecuniary legacy is a gift of a specific sum of money such as £500;
  3. A residuary legacy is a gift of money or assets left over when all other legacies and expenses have been paid.
 are the debts that have to be settled by the estate after a person dies, such as funeral expenses, loans, credit cards, income tax and utility bills.

 is a pledge to tell the truth, often calling upon God as a witness

Office of the Public Guardian
 is the government office responsible for applications to register lasting powers of attorneys.

Personal representative
 is the person entitled to deal with someone’s estate.

 is the procedure of administering an estate up to and including the application of the grant of probate.

Probate registry is a court within the high court’ family division that ensures a will is valid and the applicant is entitled to handle the estate.

Residuary beneficiary
 Is the person(s) entitled to receive a share of any residue of an estate, under the terms of the will or on intestacy.

 is the element of an estate left after any specific gifts for money are made, and after deduction of an estate’s liabilities such as funeral expenses and inheritance tax.

is when an executor decides they are unwilling or unable to act an executor

 is a person making a will. He or she must be over 18 years of age and of sound mind at the time of making their will.

 is a female testator.

 is an arrangement set up by will or deed. Trustees are appointed and given money or assets to hold and manage for defined beneficiaries.

 is a person appointed under a will. They are responsible for managing any trust that arises out of a will. Generally, they will exercise their duties when assets are held in trust for beneficiaries under 18.

 - two of them always have to be present to verify the signature of the testator on his or her will. They have to sign the will at the same time as each other and the testator.

 is a legal document which sets out a testator’s wishes as to how their estate is to be distributed on their death. A will has to be executed correctly following the Rules of Execution.