A person appointed by the court to manage the estate of a deceased person when there is no executor.

Under English law, a person aged 18 or over.

Attestation clause
The final clause in a will, where a testator and witnesses sign the will complying with required formalities. This in effect executes the valid will.

A person who benefits under a will.

To make a will the testator must have the mental awareness and understanding to approve the contents of the will, and be at least 18 years of age.

Chattels (Personal)
A chattel is any property except freehold land, immovable property such as a house, and money and securities. Chattels given in a will are normally given as specific gifts of an item such as a watch or vase (goods which can be touched) such as furniture, clothes, china and so on.

Civil partnership
A partnership registered under the Civil Partnership Act 2004.

Civil partners
Persons who are registered as partners under the Civil Partnership Act 2004.

A document that modifies some provision of a Will but does not revoke it.

Usually a mortgage or charge upon property securing the payment of a debt or other liability.

All the property belonging to a person at death.

A person named in a Will to manage the deceased’s estate.

General Gifts
An asset which is not distinguishable from other assets of the same for example “shares in Royal Mail plc”. If the testator does not have these shares, the executor will have to purchase them for the beneficiary.

Grant Of Representation
This is a court issued document which proves the executor’s entitlement to deal with the deceased’s estate, normally via a Grant of Probate, or Letters Of Administration).

A guardian looks after the interests of people who cannot look after their own affairs, such as children or people with mental disabilities.

Inheritance Tax
A tax imposed on a person’s estate upon death and in some cases on gifts during the person’s lifetime.

This occurs when someone dies without leaving a will; this person is thus referred to as an intestate.

All the direct descendants of a deceased: children, grandchildren, etc. including adopted and illegitimate children, but not stepchildren.

When the beneficiary of a gift from a will dies before the testator, the gift will fail.

A person under 18. A person under 18 cannot take a gift from a will. The gift must be held on trust until 18.

Partially intestate
The deceased has left a valid will, but has not disposed of all of his property.

Personal representative
This is a person who has been appointed to deal with a dead person’s estate. If there is a will, the executors appointed will be the personal representatives. If there is no will, the probate office or courts will appoint someone called the administrator.

Pecuniary legacy
A gift of money in a will.

Residuary gift
The gift of residue made in a Will.

The remainder of an estate after the deduction of funeral expenses, tax, debts, specific gifts, legacies and the expenses of administration.

Specific legacy
A gift of a particular asset owned by the testator at the time of his death and distinguished from all other property of a similar type owned by the testator. If for instance the gift was “my gold watch” but the testator had sold this watch before he died, this gift would fail.

When a gift fails to be disposed of to a beneficiary another can take by substitution. This can be either from the Will or if no Will then under the rules of intestacy.

Survivorship clauses
When the primary beneficiary dies within the survivorship period, then the substitutional gift takes effect; it is usual to require a period of 28 or 30 days for the spouse’s survival.

A person who makes a Will.

Testamentary dispositions
Wills and codicils.

A person who signs a Will to verify the testator’s signature on it.