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Glossary of Terms

When you make your Will there are some common legal words and phrases that you are likely to come across. Our glossary of terms will help you understand exactly what they mean.


The people (often family members) who will have to sort out your affairs if you don’t make a Will. They can also be known as executors.
Beneficiary Any person or organisation you leave a gift to in your Will. 
Bequest A gift of personal effects/assets by Will. Also another word for legacy donations in a Will.
Chattels Personal property. Real chattels refers to buildings and fixtures. Personal chattels refers to clothes, furniture, etc.
Codicil A legal document by which a person amends his/her Will. 
Estate Everything you own at the time of death.
Executor A person appointed by you in your Will to carry out the wishes in your Will.
Inheritance Tax A tax on the estate of the deceased person.
Legacy A donation that has been left in a Will to a relative, friend or charitable organisation.
Pecuniary legacy A gift of a fixed amount of money.
Probate The legal procedure that confirms your Will as valid and authorises your executors to deal with your estate.
Residue What is left of your estate after all debts and expenses have been deducted and all bequests have been paid (except residuary legacies).
Residuary legacy A gift consisting of the residue (see above) or part of the residue of an estate.
Specific legacy A gift of a particular item e.g. jewellery.
Testator A man who has died leaving a Will.
Testatrix A woman who has died leaving a Will.
Trustee A person who is responsible for any part of your estate left in trust.
Will A declaration by which a person provides for the distribution of their estate on death sometimes referred to as a testament.