Legal mumbo jumbo

Dealing with a loved one’s passing is a difficult time. At Holland Beckett Law, we aim to make the estate administration process as simple as possible. In this article we explain, in plain English some of the common legal jargon that you might encounter in the estate’s administration process.

Affidavit: A sworn statement for the purpose of being filed in Court.

Bequest: A gift made by a person in their Will.

Beneficiary/Cestui que trust: A person with an interest/entitlement under a Trust or Will.

Capacity: Legal competence to enter into a legally enforceable arrangement. Those who are under 18 do not have legal capacity. There are some exceptions, for example an attorney under the Protection of Personal and Property Rights Act 1988 must be at least 20 years of age.

Codicil: A document which adds to or makes changes to a Will.

Common form: The standard form of application for probate which is not contested or opposed in any way.

Devise: A gift of land in a Will.

Disclaim/Renounce: To relinquish/refuse a legal claim to something. For example, an executor may renounce as executor which means they step down from their role and a beneficiary may disclaim/reject a gift made to them under a Will.

Estate: Everything that a person owns in their own name at the date of their death.

Execution: The act of signing a document in a way required by law. This also includes requirements for the document to be witnessed.

Executor: An executor is the person who is appointed by the Will-maker to administer the estate.

Issue: All of a person’s descendants (children, grandchildren etc).

Intestate: When a person dies without a Will.

Legacy: A gift in a Will, usually money.

Letters of Administration: An application for administration of an estate where a person has died without a Will. Alternatively, there can be an application for letters of administration where there is a Will but the executor named in the Will has died or for whatever reason, will not apply for probate.

Life interest: A grant of the right to use all or part of the estate for the remainder of that person’s lifetime. For example, a Will-maker might leave a beneficiary the right to live in their property for the rest of their lives.

Probate: The application to prove or verify a person’s Will and obtain Court authority to act as executor.

Residuary beneficiary: A person who will receive a benefit from the remainder of an estate after specific gifts, debts and expenses have been paid.

Residuary estate: What remains of an estate after specific gifts, debts and expenses have been provided for.

Solemn form: Where probate of a Will is opposed or there is doubt whether probate should be granted. It then involves a hearing before a Judge.

Testamentary: Arising under a Will. For example, a testamentary trust is a trust arising under a Will.

Testamentary capacity: Competence to make a Will. A Will-maker must be of sound mind.

Testator/Testatrix: The male and female words for a Will-maker. It is now more common to simply refer to the person as the Will-maker.

Whilst some of the legal jargon is part of the process, we make sure our clients understand the steps in the estate administration process in a plain and simple way, to ensure they understand what is required from them at such a difficult time.

If you would like advice regarding an estate, or estate planning our specialist team is here to help.