Wills : Getting to know the terminology!
Posted on 5th June 2017 at 19:56
Below you will find a list of helpful, and commonly used, terminology relating to the drafting of wills. Don't worry, this if for guidance only - you are not expected to learn and remember all of these terms and only a few of them will form part of your usual dialogue with your clients!
Wills – Definitions
Testator (Feminine is Testatrix) – A person who makes a will
Intestacy – A person who dies without leaving a valid will (described as dying ‘intestate’)
Estate – All of the money and possessions owned by the person who has died
Beneficiaries – People who inherit the possessions of the person who has died
Executors – The people chosen by the testator of a will to collect all his assets, pay his bills, and distribute the balance to the beneficiaries named in the will.
Administrators – The people (usually relatives) who are appointed under fixed rules to collect together the assets of someone who dies intestate, pay bills and distribute the balance to the beneficiaries.
Personal Representatives – executors and administrators
Devise - a gift of land
Grant – a court order issued by the Probate Registry authorizing the distribution of the estate to beneficiaries
Grant of probate – A grant obtained when there is a valid will and at least one surviving executor
Net estate – the estate after deduction of any debts owed, administration expenses and inheritance tax.
Joint tenants – ownership of property jointly – the asset would pass to the surviving owner.
Tenants in common – each party owns a share of the property and the deceased share would be distributed as per the will instructions.
Absolute gift – the beneficiary is entitled to the capital outright
Life Interest – his is the entitlement to income from a gift but not the underlying capital.
Codicil – a document prepared and signed in accordance with the same rules as the will, which makes some alteration to the terms of the original will – for example adding a beneficiary or changing the name of an executor.
Specific legacy – A gift of a particular specific item (for example ‘I give MY three stone diamond engagement ring to…’)
General legacy – Gifting of an unspecified item (for example ‘I give A car….I give A horse…)
Pecuniary legacy – a general gift of money from the estate (eg I give £1,000 to Jane)
Demonstrative legacy – a gift on money from a specified fund (eg I give £1,000 to Jane from my Barclays Bank account) - If at the time of death there are insufficient funds in the specified account, the balance of the gift must be met from the residue of the estate.
Residuary estate – The part of the estate which is left one all debts paid and other gifts have been distributed – sometimes referred to as ‘The residue’.
Per Stirpes - a latin term, loosely translated to 'by roots', and used where an estate is distributed to the direct line of descendants.
Minors Receipt Clause - a clause that gives additional powers to Trustees with regards to gifts left to children.
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