Someone who is appointed by law to settle your affairs if you die without a Will.


An attestation is the act of attending the execution of a document and bearing witness to it`s authenticity, by signing one`s name to it to affirm that it is genuine.

The testator must sign the will or acknowledge his signature in the presence of two or more witnesses present at the time, who must then sign or acknowledge their signatures in the testator`s presence.



A person, Charity or Organisation who benefits from a Will or Trust


See Legacy below

Business Property Relief

Dependent on the type of business owned, there is up to 100% Inheritance Tax Relief available on the value of the deceased`s interests at death as long as certain requirements are met.



Anybody aged 18 and over in England & Wales can write a Will as long as they have Mental Capacity to do so. The testator must know and approve of the contents of the Will at the time he gives instructions for the drafting and when it is drawn up. It is generally accepted that a testator must have full mental capacity at the time the Will is executed.


Personal belongings (such as cars, televisions, furniture, pets etc) but excluding assets used for business purposes.

Civil Partnerships

A legal agreement (that came into force in December 2006) that can be entered into from then on by same sex couples, giving them all the same rights that heterosexual married couples have enjoyed in the past.


A codicil is a supplementary document to an existing Will that adds to, alters or revokes the original intentions, without revoking the whole Will. It is most useful to effect minor alterations to complicated wills and should not be used to effect major alterations.


Deed of Variation

The act of changing or creating a deceased persons Will. These are generally used for Inheritance Tax or Capital Gains Purposes. It must be completed within two years of date of death and to be effective all beneficiaries must agree to the changes.


Different from residency, broadly speaking you are domiciled where you have your permanent home. The Law of England & Wales assigns a domicile to all persons. The most common is a “domicile of origin” (domicile of the mother) which is acquired at birth and stays with you unless you acquire a domicile of choice (need to be over 16, actually reside in the country of choice and intend to stay there permanently) or you are deemed domicile (you have been resident in any part of the UK for 17 out of the last 20 years).


See beneficiary above



The total of the assets that you own at your death which can be left under your Will, less any outstanding commitments.

See Attestation above


A person named in a will to carry out or execute the wishes of the deceased and distribute the estate upon death. In England and Wales a person must be at least 18 to be an executor.


Foreign Property

All property (houses, flats etc) situated outside of England & Wales – this includes Scotland and Northern Ireland. If you have such property you may need another Will to ensure this passes to the person you want.



The person who assumes legal responsibility for any children under the age of 18 when both parents die. If there is no Will the Court will decide, if you have a Will you can decide. If the parents are not married, the children will not necessarily automatically go to the surviving parent on first death



Largely outdated now but essentially the person who would inherit ie next of kin, spouse, executor or administrator.



Items owned that can not be moved, ie property or land, as opposed to movable items, ie possessions or chattels

Inheritance Tax

The “death tax”. Every adult in England & Wales has inheritance tax relief (NRB) of £325,000 (2011/12). If your estate is over this limit then everything over will be taxed at 40% eg if your estate is worth £500,000 then your Executors will have to pay £70,000. If you are, or have been married the Transferable Nil Rate Band will come into effect.


An estate where there is no Will and the law directs who inherits what. If you are married your spouse will inherit part of your estate, if you are not then your partner is not legally bound to inherit anything


A person who has died without a Will or whose Will is proved to be invalid


The Testators children, grand-children, great grand-children and so on.


Joint Tenants

The ownership of property where, typically a couple, both effectively own all of it, and indivdually own nothing at all. If one passes away then the survivor automatically owns all the house – no matter what it says in the Will

Joint Wills

A Will made by two or more people contained in a single document. The law treats a joint will as being two or more separate wills. When the first of the testators die the joint will is admitted to probate as if it is the will of the testator who has died. When the second testator dies the will is admitted to probate as if it is the will of that testator, if no fresh will has been made since the joint will was made.
back to top




Not just land as in fields. In legal terminology land encompass all land and property (ie immovable items) as opposed to personal possesssions (ie movable items).


A specific item (specific legacy) or sum of money or property (general legacy) gifted to a person, Charity or Organisation from a Will

See beneficiary above

Letter of wishes

An additional document that can be inserted into (but not attached to) a Will that expresses the wishes of the Testator but do not have to be adhered to – they are only a wish

Life Interest

Used in Property Trusts to allow, typically a spouse on first death, use of a property for the duration of their lifetime. However,the property does not form part of their estate on their death as the gift of the property was due to someone else, typically children.

Living Wills (Advanced Medical Directive)

A document that records the wishes of a person relating to what they want to happen to them should they become too ill to make decisions for themselves. Not a legally binding documet.


A legally binding document that allows a person to pass over responsibility for their affairs to another person whilst they are mentally capable and able to sign.


Mental Capacity

The level of mental ability required to understand and comprehend the implications and outcomes of an action


A person under the age of 18

Mirror Wills

A Mirror Will is when a husband, wife or partner make almost identical Wills leaving everything to each other if one of them dies and then if they both die together to their children (if any) or, if there are no children then to someone else.


Items owned that can be moved, ie possessions or chattels, as opposed to immovable items, ie property or land.

Mutual Wills

Wills where two or more testators make separate wills or make a joint will and in doing so agree to confer on each other reciprocal benefits or agree to confer benefits on the same beneficiaries. The mutual notices can only be changed if both parties agree, if one of the parties dies the agreement is still binding.


Nil Rate Band

The amount of inheritance tax relief every adult in England & Wales has. In 2011/12 the level is set at £325,000 and it generally rises with inflation



Personal Representative
The collective term for the person who admisters the estate of a deceased person. See Administrator and Executor

Per Capita

A gift distributed based on the number of people ie £10,000 divided by 4 children means each gets £2,500 or a quarter

Per Stirpes

A gift distributed based on the number of “branches” ie £10,000 divided by 4 branches means each get £2,500 no matter how many children or grandchildren are in each branch. One branch could only contain 1 child whilst another could contain 1 child and five grandchildren – each branch would get the same amount.

Pilot Trust

A Trust set up during your lifetime with a small amount of money (usually £10) which can be added to, either in your lifetime or on your death, by a legacy in your Will. The Trust must be set up before your Will, leaving the monies to the Trust, is signed.


A document issued by the Court confirming both the validity of a Will and the Executor’s right to administer the Estate.


Any asset owned, not just houses or flats.



Residuary Estate

The portion of the deceased`s estate that is not specifically given to someone in the Will ie the residue


The process of revoking or cancelling a Will. There are only 3 ways of doing this – destruction of the Will, Marriage or Civil Partnership or the correct writing of a new Will



The individual who transfers his or her assets into a Trust


A partner in marriage


Tenants in Common

The ownership of property where, typically a couple, effectively each own just half of it (or any other proportion). When you die what happens to your share of the house depends entirely upon what you have said in your Will, or according to the laws of intestacy


The person making the will (testator = male, testarix = female)

Transferable Nil Rate Band

If someone leaves everything they own to their surviving spouse or civil partner in this way, it`s not only exempt from Inheritance Tax but it also means they haven`t used any of their own Inheritance Tax threshold or nil rate band. It is therefore available to increase the Inheritance Tax nil rate band of the second spouse or civil partner when they die – even if the second spouse has re-married. Their estate can be worth up to £650,000 in 2011-12 before they owe Inheritance Tax


A person who has the repsonsibility to manage any assets you put in trust. They must ensure that the terms of the trust are applied for the good of the trust beneficiary.


A legal relationship whereby one individual transfers his or her assets to another individual or company who holds and manages these assets for the benefit of others. The trustees are bound by the terms of the trust deed.


Undue Influence

One person taking advantage of a position of power over another and thereby influencing their decision-making in the provision within the Will




They must be over 18, of sound mind and able to see you sign your will. Neither they or their spouse should be named in the Will as if they are their gift will fail but the Will will remain valid. You must have at least two when signing you will.




For more information on how we can write a Will that will give you peace of mind and save your dependants time and money contact us by calling 01494 580550 by filling in our contact form.