Guide To Wills And Probate Terminology

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Trainee Solicitor, Leah Pilling, discusses Wills and Probate terminology in her latest blog…

The Wills and Probate terminology we use today has been used for almost 200 hundred years. There are many old fashioned terms, confusing legal jargon, and hard to decipher Latin phrases.

There are phrases and terms that we, as legal professionals, use every day but to a lay person often these phrases are not part of their everyday vocabulary and can get ‘lost in translation’. In order to help make things a bit easier, we have created a glossary of some of the key phrases and terms that you may come across when making your will or dealing with a deceased estate.

The web page for our full glossary can be found by clicking on the following link:

We have also compiled some of the most widely used phrases and gathered them below:


A person responsible for winding up the estate of a person who has died leaving no will or a person who has died leaving a will, but their executors cannot act


“Property” owned by a person who has died is called the assets of the estate. E.g. house, bank account, shares, life policies


A person who is appointed by another to act as his agent in some or all of his affairs. The appointment must be in writing (a power of attorney). Acts of the attorney are as valid as if they were acts of the appointer


A beneficiary is a person who receives something from a trust or an estate and their right is called a beneficial interest

Beneficial Joint Tenants

Two or more persons who own land together and whose interest will pass by survivorship, on death, to the surviving co-owners (to be contrasted with tenants in common)


Capital sums are one off payments

Capital Gains Tax

A tax paid by a person on the profit they have made on an asset they have sold that has increased in value. Often abbreviated to CGT


Physical personal property e.g., jewellery, cars, etc. Does not include land or intangible items such as bank accounts


A group of people within a will, e.g “my nephews” or “my employees”


To engross is to prepare a final version of a legal document ready for it to be executed and that prepared document is called the engrossment


A person appointed by a Will or Codicil to administer an estate

Grant Of Representation

The Court Order authorising a person to deal with the assets of a deceased person. If a will is proved by the executors, it is more precisely called a grant of probate; otherwise, a grant of letters of administration (with or without a will annexed)


An agreement to make good any loss suffered as a result of an act or failure to act by another

Inheritance Tax

A tax that is paid on a deceased person’s property. Sometimes, it is also paid on lifetime gifts. Often abbreviated to IHT

In Specie

Describes the transfer of an asset in its current form rather than as an equivalent amount in cash.

Inter Vivos

A Latin word for ‘between living people’. A gift made Inter Vivos is a gift made while a person is alive


Intestacy occurs when a person dies without leaving a valid will. The rules of intestacy apply in these circumstances


Children, grandchildren and all other remoter descendants


A gift of chattels/assets by will

Nil Rate Band

The amount of the Inheritance tax threshold at any time chargeable at nil per cent

Partial Intestacy

This arises when a person dies and has left a will that disposes of some but not all of their property

Personal Representatives

A general term that means either an administrator or an executor

Power of Attorney

A legal document where one person gives another person the right to make decisions on their behalf


A term used in relation to tax, meaning that tax is charged at a reduced rate


When two or more people own property and one owner dies, their share of the property passes in accordance with the terms of their will or intestacy, not automatically to the other owner(s).


To die leaving a valid will


The people that you appoint to manage the trust

How We Can Help

Timms provide legal expertise for Wills and Probate. If you want to make sure that your wishes regarding money, possessions and property are carried out after you die then we are here to help.

If you require further information regarding making a Will or dealing with a deceased’s estate, please call 01332 364436, or email

Leah Pilling

October 2023

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