Here is a brief description of some of the legal terms you may come across when considering making or changing a Will or Power of Attorney, or dealing with the affairs of someone who has died.


The person or person(s) who is appointed by the Courts to sort out your affairs on death if you do not hold a Will; an Administratrix being the female person.


This refers to your estate and can include monies, property, possessions and investments.


The person who you have given the power to make decisions on your behalf as regards your property and financial affairs or your health and welfare.


An individual or organisation who will receive a gift in your Will.


A gift of property or money in your Will.

Capital Gains Tax (CGT)

The tax potentially payable on any gain in value when an asset is disposed of.


A step taken in the Principal Probate Registry or a District Probate Registry to prevent a Grant of Administration being issued.


A non-profit organisation that is registered to collect monies and other voluntary contributions for the benefit of a group of people, animals or causes.

Charity Commission

An independent Government department which registers and regulates all charities in England and Wales, with the power to take action against malpractice or misconduct.


An additional document to a Will whereby you make alterations or additions to the provisions of your existing Will.

Civil Partnership

An official registered partnership between members of the same sex, which provides the same rights as married couples.


An independent officer of the court (usually a lawyer or doctor) who investigates deaths that are sudden or unexpected or the cause of death was unknown.

Court of Protection

A specialist court created under the Mental Capacity Act 2005 dealing with the appointment of a Deputy and questions relating to people who may lack capacity to make their own decisions.


The person appointed by the Court of Protection to manage the property and financial affairs or the health and welfare of another who cannot act on their own behalf.


The person who gives an Attorney the power to make decisions on their behalf under a Power of Attorney.

Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA)

Until October 2007 this was the document used to appoint Attorneys to look after their property and financial affairs. They were replaced by Lasting Powers of Attorney from 1 October 2007. Any Enduring Powers of Attorney made before 1 October 2007 are still effective, but will not relate to health and welfare.


The money, property, possessions and investments (also known as assets) left by a deceased person.


The person (or persons) chosen by you in your Will to administer your Estate and carry out your wishes as set out in your Will; an Executrix being the female person.


The person (or persons) appointed by you in your Will to make decisions about your children, if they are under the age of 18 at the time of your death.

Grant of Representation

An order from the Probate Registry formally appointing the Executor(s) or Administrator(s) to administer an estate.

H.M. Revenue and Customs (HMRC)

The Government department with responsibility for the collection of taxes – including  Capital Gains Tax, Income Tax or Inheritance Tax.

Inheritance Tax (IHT)

The tax payable on the estate of a deceased person.

IHT Threshold

Inheritance tax is payable if the taxable estate exceeds a certain figure. For the current tax year (2014-15) this figure is £325,000 and tax is paid at 40% on all assets exceeding this figure.


You are said to be intestate if you die without making a valid Will. Intestacy is when this situation arises.

Joint Tenants

Where property is owned by more than one person it can be held in two different ways. One is as Joint Tenants, whereby on the death of the first person the property will automatically pass to the survivor(s) irrespective of the terms of any Will. The other way is known as Tenants in Common.

Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA)

A legal document where you choose who you would like to make decisions on your behalf.

LPA – Property and Affairs

This allows your Attorney(s) to deal with your property, bank accounts, investments, collect your pension and benefits, pay your bills on your behalf, complete tax returns and make certain gifts.

LPA –Health and Welfare

This allows your Attorney(s) to make decisions as to your welfare – where you are to reside, what your daily routine should be, who is to visit you – and health – what type of medical care you are to receive and whether you consent to or refuse end-of-life treatment.


A gift left to a person or organisation in your Will.

Living Will

Also known as an Advance Directive. This document allows you to refuse certain types of medical treatment under given circumstances, where you are unable to communicate your wishes.

Office of the Public Guardian (OPG)

A specialist court created to deal with the registration of Lasting Powers of Attorney and Enduring Powers of Attorney, as well as the supervision of Deputies.

Pecuniary Legacy

A gift of a set sum of money in your Will.

Personal Chattels

Your household contents and personal belongings.

Personal Representative(s)

A universal term for the person or persons who act in the administration of an estate. If there is a Will they are known as Executors and if there is no Will they are known as Administrators.

Post Mortem

A medical examination of a deceased person to find out the cause of death.


The legal procedure to decide whether you left a valid Will.

Probate Registry

Part of HM Courts and Tribunals Service dealing with Wills and the administration of estates.

Renounce acting as an Executor

An Executor may refuse or decline to act and this is known as renouncing.

Residue/Residuary Estate

The sum or property that is left from your estate after all debts, charges and gifts has been settled.

Specific Legacy

A gift of a particular item – for example a piece of jewellery or furniture.

Tenants in Common

Where property is owned by more than one person it can be held in two different ways. One is as Tenants in Common, whereby each of the owners has a distinct share in the property which can be left under the terms of their respective Wills. The shares need not necessarily be equal. The other way is known as Joint Tenants.


The person who is making the Will. A Testator is male and a Testatrix is female.


A relationship created by an individual, either during their lifetime or on their death by the terms of their Will, whereby property is held for the benefit of another or others.


A person who holds assets on trust for another.


A legal written document executed by an individual detailing how that person want their estate to be distributed after their death and who they want to act as Executors and Guardians.


A person who signs the Will in the presence of the Testator/Testatrix. This should be neither a beneficiary, nor the spouse or civil partner of a beneficiary, nor a minor.

This list is not exhaustive and if you have any queries on the meaning of the above or any other legal terms contact one of our specialist Wills and Probate Solicitors.

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