Wills and Probate Jargon Buster

Wills and Probate solicitor leeds

If you’re drawing up a Will for yourself or have been named executor for a family member or friend, we understand that the process can sometimes be a little daunting. This is especially true when you consider the large amount of legal terms that are used in Wills and Probate. It’s why we always recommend that you instruct a solicitor to make your Will, as there can be many complications in the law, the terms used and they have the reassuring expertise to advise you during the process.

Even if you have a solicitor, the legal terms used in drafting Wills and Probate documents can be complex to say the least! We like all of our clients to feel confident when they speak to us and have therefore created this handy Wills and Probate jargon buster to help clarify this area of law.

Assets Passing by Survivorship

Where assets (property, money or belongings) are held in joint names, on the death of one of the asset owners, the assets will pass automatically to the surviving co-owner rather than through the Will. This applies even if the deceased owner stated in their Will that their share of the property should be passed to another person. Assets held in joint names are excluded from the value of assets for Probate purposes.

Attestation

Attestation is the process when a testator’s signature is witnessed. For a Will to be valid this process MUST be completed. Most Wills will contain an attestation clause to confirm that the testator’s signature has been witnessed.

Beneficiary or Beneficiaries

The person who the Will stipulates will receive assets.

Caveat

A notice of warning that a Will is going to be disputed. Once issued against an estate, the caveat will prevent a grant of probate or a grant of letters of administration being issued.

Codicil

A legal document that amends/changes a previous Will.

Deed of Variation

A legal document that allows a beneficiary or beneficiaries to alter the terms of a Will after the death of the testator. If the deceased is intestate the beneficiary or beneficiaries can use a Deed of Variation to vary the distribution of the deceased’s estate.

Grant of Probate

The legal process of administering the deceased’s estate by distributing the assets in accordance with the valid Will and resolving all claims.

Executor’s Oath

A written statement sworn by Executors or Administrators of an estate. The Oath accompanies an application for a Grant of Representation.

Estate

The entirety of an individual’s property and possessions.

Executor/Executrix

The person who the Will appoints to administer the deceased’s estate.

Estate Administration

The process where the deceased’s assets are distributed in accordance with the Will or, where there is no Will, in accordance with the intestacy rules.

Gross Value of Estate

The total value of the deceased’s assets before deducting liabilities.

Intestate

A person who dies without leaving a Will or a legally valid Will.

Intestacy

The situation which arises when the deceased has not left a Will or a legally valid Will. The deceased’s estate will be distributed in accordance with the rules of intestacy.

Joint Tenants/Joint Tenancy

Where property is owned jointly, the co-owners are known as either joint tenants or tenants in common. The property will be held as either a joint tenancy or a tenancy in common. See Assets Passing by Survivorship.

Legacy

A specific amount of money or property left to a specific person in a Will.

Letter of Administration

The documentation given by the Registrar to appoint an individual or individuals to administer the deceased’s Estate. This documentation is warranted in cases where no executors have been appointed, none of the executors are alive or none of the executors wish to carry out their duties.

Liabilities

Debts that need to be settled by the estate after the death of the deceased.

Net Value of Estate

The value of the deceased’s assets after deducting liabilities.

Testator/Testatrix

This is a person who has made a Will. A testator refers to a male who has made a Will and a testatrix refers to a female who has made a Will.

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