Jargon Buster

We know the terminology used during the Will writing process can be confusing so we've created a guide to common words, terms and phrases.


Assets - Items in your estate that have value, such as property, bank accounts or investments.

Beneficiary – A person or charity that receives a gift from your Will.

Bequest – A gift left in a Will, usually used for specific items, often sentimental value.

Chattels – Your personal effects

Codicil – A document that adds to, or amends or even revokes your Will. It must be witnessed and satisfy all the requirements as if it were a Will. In most cases, if you need to make changes to your Will, it is better to write a new one.

Dependants – Anyone who is dependent on you for financial support or care e.g. children, the elderly and sick relatives.

Discretionary Trust – A trust where trustees have full power to decide when and which members of a group of beneficiaries are to benefit.

Domicile – Typically, the person’s domicile is their country of birth, however, a number of factors may be used to determine this at death.

Estate – All things owned in your name such as your car, money, investments etc.

Executor – The person who will carry out the instructions of the Will.

Grant of Probate – Confirmation of an executor’s power to administer the estate.

Guardian – A person who is legally responsible for a child under 18 years of age.

Inheritance Tax – A tax that may need to be paid from your estate before being distributed to your beneficiaries.

Intestacy – What happens to your estate when you die without leaving a Will.

Issue – All living direct bloodline descendants.

Joint Tenancy – A way of holding property between more than one person so it may pass between them.

Lasting Power of Attorney – A legal document allowing you to appoint someone to handle your affairs if you lose the capacity to do so yourself.

Legacy – Alternative name for a gift given in the Will (a bequest), this is normally used for gifts of money.

Legatee – Someone who receives the legacy.

Living Will – Also known as an Advanced Decision / Directive. An order which allows you to indicate whether or not you wish to refuse some or all forms of medical treatment if you lose mental capacity in the future.

Nil-rate Band – The amount of your estate that is taxed at 0% for Inheritance Tax.

Per Stirpes – “By the branch” a term ensuring a beneficiary’s gift from a Will passes to their children if he or she dies before you.

Probate – The process of administrating your estate when you die.

Residue – The amount left over in your estate after taxes and debts have been paid, and all gifts have been given. A clause in the Will allows you to nominate who receives some or all of the residue.

Tenants in Common – A way of holding property with one or more people that allows you to gift your share in your Will.

Testator – The person creating the Will.

Trust – The passing of control of one or more of your assets to be managed by a person you trust for your beneficiaries.

Trustee – A person who manages the trust fund.

Vested Interest – A person who meets all of the conditions of a gift and is absolutely entitled to it will attain a vested interest.

Ward of Court – Children who are orphaned and have no guardian appointed to them are made “Wards of Court”, and the courts will decide what happens to them.

Witnesses – Two people must view the signing of the Will by the Testator. Legally, they must be sighted and of sound mind, and they cannot be a blood relative of the testator, a beneficiary or the spouse of a beneficiary. However, there is no requirement for them to actually read the document.

For more information please call us 01299 549540 or go to our website www.thewillwritinggroup.co.uk

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