Some common legal terms include:

Administrator – Someone appointed by the court to oversee an estate not covered by a Will.

Attestation  – The act of witnessing authenticity of the article, by signing one’s name to it.

Beneficiary – A person or organisation who benefits from a Will. Executors, guardians and trustees, may be beneficiaries of the Will they serve.


Codicil –  A subsequent addition to the Will, integrated within the Will.

Devise –   The technical term for a gift of land or property.

Discretionary–  A trust that appoints beneficiaries over whom a group of trustees.

Trust- have discretion as to how, when, why and if any, of the trust assets are paid to a beneficiary


Estate –  The gross estate is the composition and value of all assets – everything – that you own, owe, are party to and responsible for, before taxes and costs are accounted for.


Executor – One or more people who carry out the directions of the Will.

Gift – A gift may be specific item or collection of items. The term is used generically.

Guardian – A person appointed to look after minors until they attain 18-years, or an incapacitated person.


Intestate – The legal status which dictates who the beneficiaries of an estate are,

(Intestacy) – when the deceased has left no Will; or, the Will is invalid ( totally or partially ).


Legacy – Another name for a gift made by Will to a person or organisation.

  • Pecuniary legacy – specific sum of money
  • Residuary legacy – the remainder of the estate, or share of it
  • Specific legacy – an actual item such as a gold watch, ring etc.


Life Interest Trust – A trust that enables a person to benefit ( eg. take an income) from trust assets during their lifetime without actually owning the capital value. The capital assets are then passed on to other beneficiaries when that person dies.


Probate – The process required by law to prove the validity of a Will if the estate exceeds £5,000.

The court grants probate to an executor if there is a Will, or to an administrator if there is no Will.  It is the authority to deal with an estate.


Residue –  The estate which is left for distribution to a beneficiary, after all debts, taxes, gifts and legacies have been paid and made.


Testator –  The person who makes the Will. To die with a valid Will is to die ‘testate’.

Trust –  A legal device that appoints assets to be used in a specified way.

Trustee – One or more people who manage a trust.

Witness- The person who attests the testator’s signature to the Will. He must be totally independent of the Will and not related to anyone in the Will, otherwise questions arise over its validity.