A pro rata reduction applied among beneficiaries or creditors if there is not sufficient money to satisfy bequests or debts.
The person who deals with (administers) the estate of a person who has died intestate (without a will).
The act of witnessing a person’s signing of a written document.
People who inherit under the terms of the will or if there is no will under the rules of Intestacy.
A gift of a particular object (for example, an item of jewellery).
In will or intestacy matters, the children of the person who has died include their adopted and illegitimate children, but not their stepchildren (unless they are specifically mentioned).
A partnership between two people of the same sex which has been registered in accordance with the Civil Partnership Act 2004. Couples who register their relationship have the same inheritance and other tax advantages as married couples.
An addition or amendment to a will. One or more can be made but to be valid they must be correctly drafted, dated, signed and witnessed.
This term has no legal force, although a partner who lived with the person who died for two years before their death might be able to claim a share of the estate.
A written, signed legal document.
Usually in the context of de facto husband or de facto wife. Refers to a common-law spouse where a couple are living together as if husband or wife but not legally married (such a couple do not have the same rights as a married couple).
A gift of a house or land.
Discretionary Will Trust
A type of trust that provides an opportunity to mitigate or even completely eradicate Inheritance Tax liability by taking maximum advantage of the tax-free allowance available.
All the assets and property of the person who has died, including all houses, cars, investments, money and belongings.
The person appointed in the will to deal with the estate of a person who has died.
For a gift (over £3,000) to be fully efficient for Inheritance Tax purposes you must survive seven years from the date of the gift. You cannot have any access to the monies gifted for your own benefit. This is also referred to as a potentially exempt tansfer or ‘PET’.
People appointed by the person making the will (the testator) to look after their children in the event of the testator’s death.
The tax at 40% that may have to be paid when the total estate of a person who has died is more than a certain amount (currently £325,000).
Without a will, or a person who dies without having made a will.
All the descendants of a person (children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and so on).
The territory over which the law of a given country extends. The usual jurisdiction is England and Wales. Scotland is a separate jurisdiction.
If you own a property with another person or persons and one of you were to die the property automatically passes to the survivor regardless of what is stated in the will. This is known as the right of survivorship.
A gift of money (usually a specific amount).
Letters of Administration
The document issued to the administrators by the Probate Registry to authorise them to deal with the estate.
The right to receive the income or benefit from a property or capital sum (but not the capital sum itself) for life.
The value of an estate after deducting all liabilities, bills and mortgages.
Next of Kin
In intestacy matters, the person entitled to the estate when a person dies intestate (without a will).
Nil Rate Band
The value of an estate up to which inheritance tax is not payable (currently £325,000).
Pledge to tell the truth. Usually calls upon God as a witness.
Oath for Administrators
This document must be sworn by the administrators (usually next of kin) where there is no will. It is required by the Probate Registry to enable a grant of letters of administration to be issued.
Oath for Executors
This document must be sworn by the executors before the Probate Registry will issue a grant of probate thereby enabling the executors to deal with the estate.
Amount of money left to a specified person under the terms of the will.
Personal belongings, including jewellery, furniture, wine, pictures, books and cars (but not money, investments, property or business assets).
All the investments and belongings of a person apart from land and buildings.
A general term for administrators and executors.
Probate of the Will
The document issued to executors by the Probate Registry to authorise the executors to deal with the estate.
A court within the Family Division of the High Court which deals with probate and administration matters. The Principal Registry is in London and there are district Registries in other cities and some large towns.
Proving the Will
Making the application for probate to the Probate Registry.
(Realty) Land and buildings owned by a person.
The person who gets the property or capital sum after the death of the person holding a ‘life interest.’
What is left to share out after all debts and specific bequests and legacies have been paid.
If the person making the will (the testator) changes their will completely and it invalidates the previous one, they are deemed to have revoked the previous will.
Particular items gifted by the will. They may be called ‘specific legacies.’
Husband or wife. If a person goes through a divorce, their spouse remains their husband or wife until the decree absolute is granted.
Husbands and wives can give assets or money to each other both during their lives or on death (in their Will) without attracting any tax.
The twelve month period commencing 6th April and ending 5th April the following year.
A person who makes a will. Testaulix is sometimes used to mean a female will-maker.
Deeds of Variation allow wills to be varied by the residuary beneficiary or beneficiaries within two years of the date of death. This is useful if the survivor(s) wish to make use of the Inheritance Tax nil rate band and make gifts over to, for example, children.
The document in which you say what will happen to your money and possessions on your death.
A will is always subject to two witnesses verifying the signature of the person making the will (the testator). The witnesses must sign the will at the same time as each other and at the same time as the testator. The witnesses should not be people who benefit from the will (or they will forfeit their inheritance) or who are appointed executors. They should be over 18, unrelated and of sound mind.