Probate: A Jargon Buster

Probate and estate administration is a subject which is full of jargon, so here is a breakdown of some of the most frequently used terminology.

Administrator – If a Will has not been made, a person will be set by the court to deal with the deceased’s estate, this person will be the administrator

Assets – Any property, money and possessions, so that includes homes; land; bank accounts; cash; cars; shares; premium bonds and much more

Beneficiary – A person or organisation who is due to receive money or assets through a Will, a Trust or Intestacy

Chattels – Belongings which are owned, but are not considered assets, such as furniture, antiques, jewellery and even pets

Codicil – An official document which details any changes or updates to a Will

Crown – Also known as the government or the state

Estate – Any money, property, debts or possessions are known as your estate

Executor – The person named in a Will who will deal with the estate following the death of he who has made the Will

Grant of Probate – The executor of a Will may need to apply for a Grant of Probate in order to gain the authority to deal with the deceased’s estate

IHT – Inheritance Tax – this is a tax which is paid if a person’s estate is worth more than £325,000 when they die. Normally the executor or the administrator pays Inheritance Tax using money from the estate

Intestate/Intestacy – When a person dies with no Will or an invalid Will, they are considered to have died intestate

Legacy – Any specific amount of money or a particular item left to a person or an institution such as a charity.  This type of beneficiary is sometimes called a Legatee.

Letters of Administration – This is Legal documentation which is issued when a person dies without a Will

Probate – The legal process whereby a Will is validated by the court

Residue – When all debts and legacies are paid, the remainder of the estate is called the residue and this must be distributed


Joint Tenants – Two people who own equal shares of a property, so if one passes away, the other tenant has the property entirely

Tenants in Common – Two people who own a certain share each of the property, and said share can be passed on in their Will, so the surviving tenant will not necessarily receive the deceased’s share

Testator – A person who has made a Will

Witness – Those who are not beneficiaries, nor closely related to beneficiaries of a Will may be witness to the testator signing it.  In the United Kingdom, two witness signatures are required and they must be 18 years of age or above.


Please do not hesitate to get in touch and for advice or information, call us on 0345 017 8250 or visit our website at


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