Making sense of Wills


When it comes to sorting out a Will, there’s an awful lot of jargon to try to make sense of. Here are some of the most common terms you’ll come across, and what they really mean.

Assets: These are the valuable items you own and cover your possessions, property, cash, etc.

Attestation: This is the signing and witnessing of a will.

Beneficiary: This is a person or organisation to whom you leave something in your Will.

Bequest: This is the term for a gift that you have left to someone in your Will. There are several different kinds, for example a specific bequest is a particular named item, such as a piece of furniture or jewellery.

Codicil: This is a document that can be used to change a Will which has already been written.

Crown: This is essentially the Government and it is where your money will go if you die without writing a Will.

Estate: This is the total of your assets minus the value of any liabilities you owe.

Executor: When you write a Will, you need to name an executor. This is the person who is responsible for ensuring your wishes are carried out.

Guardian: A person who is responsible for children until they reach the age of 18.

Inheritance Tax: This is a tax which is paid on the portion of your estate which is above the nil-rate threshold. Currently, this stands at £325,000 for individuals, though you can now pass on a further £100,000 (rising to £175,000 by 2020) if you are leaving your primary residence to family.

Intestate: This is when someone dies without leaving a Will.

Legacy: This is another word for a gift or bequest left in your Will.

Probate: This proves the Will is valid and gives the executor the authority to administer the estate.

Residue: This is the word for what is left of your estate after debts, taxes and certain bequests have been handed out to beneficiaries.

Testator: This is the name for the person who has made a Will

Trust: You can set up a trust to administer some of your assets after you die.

Trustees: These are the people that manage a trust.

Witness: A Will must be signed in the presence of two witnesses, who also need to sign the Will.


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