The language of Will writing can seem complicated and daunting. That’s why we’ve put together this explanation of some of the most common terms that you may come across.
Wills - the jargon explained
Everything that you own, i.e. your house, money, investments and personal possessions like furniture and jewellery.
Any person or organisation that receives a gift in your Will.
A gift made in a Will to a person or organisation.
Any item or personal property that can be moved from place to place, i.e. furniture.
A simple legal document which amends an existing Will. It must be executed (signed officially) in the same way as your Will.
A gift which only takes effect if a specific condition is met on your death.
The total sum of your possessions, property and money left at your death after debts have been paid.
A person/persons named in your Will who will administer your estate in accordance with the final directions set out in your Will. An Executor may also be a Beneficiary. You can have up to four executors, and they be a solicitor, trust company, bank, charity or a friend or family member.
Someone who's responsible for children until they become 18.
The tax paid when you die on the proportion of your estate that is over the nil-rate band threshold. This threshold varies every tax year. All gifts in your Will to charity are free of inheritance tax.
The term for a person who dies without having a Will. Under the Rules of Intestacy, if you die without a Will, certain relations are entitled to apply for your estate. If you do not have any surviving blood relations, the State (Government) will apply for your estate.
Someone who leaves a gift in their Will to a person or organisation when they die.
All your debts, including your mortgage and other money you owe.
Life interest trust
The right of a beneficiary to benefit from part or all of your estate for their lifetime. For example, in your Will you can give a relative/friend the right to live in a property for their lifetime. Other beneficiaries, often charities, receive the asset after these beneficiaries have died. This is sometimes also called a 'reversionary legacy'.
This is when two Wills are almost identical, usually with each person leaving all or most of their estate to the other. Mirror Wills are very popular with couples. A typical example might be a husband leaving his whole estate to his wife, with the added condition that if she dies first, his estate will go to their children.
A gift of a fixed sum of money. If you choose this type of gift, it's worth considering linking it to inflation. Without this it could mean the true value of this gift could become less than you intended.
The first step in the legal process by which your Executor(s) administer your estate in accordance with your Will. A Will is proven in a court and accepted as a valid public document that is the true last testament of the deceased.
A percentage or share of your estate after all other payments have been made.
The total sum of your possessions, property and money left at your death after debts and gifts of fixed sums to beneficiaries have been paid.
A 'restricted' gift allows you to specify how or where you'd like your gift to be used.
A gift of a particular item, such as jewellery, an antique or shares.
A person who has made a Will.
One (or more) people who manage a trust according to its terms.
'Unrestricted' gifts (i.e. that charities can use wherever the gift will make the biggest difference) are often the most valuable as they can be used where they're most urgently needed.
A legal document by which a person states what they want to happen with their estate following their death.