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Definition of terms

Jargon buster

Check our glossary for an explanation of any legal terms you’re unfamiliar with.

Administrator

The person appointed to manage an estate when there isn’t a will, or when the executor is unable, or unwilling, to act.

Asset

Individual items of property, money or possessions that belonged to the deceased.

Beneficiary

The person who’s entitled to receive money or property from a will or intestacy.

Confirmation of the estate

In Scotland, this is the legal document obtained from the court after a death. It’s the equivalent to the Grant of Probate obtained in England and Wales.

Death certificate

This is the legal document given by the registrar when a person dies – it’s a copy of the signed entry in the death register, and confirms the date, cause and location of death.

Estate

This covers everything an individual owns, such as money, property and possessions, and everything that’s registered in their name.

Executor

This is the person named in a will, who carries out the wishes defined within the will.

Grant of Probate

Where there is a will, this document authorises the person dealing with the estate (the executor) to follow its wishes.

Inheritance Tax

The tax paid to HMRC on the deceased’s estate.

Intestacy

This term is used when someone dies without making a valid will.

Lasting power of attorney (LPA)

Lasting powers of attorney let you appoint trusted people as ‘attorneys’ to take care of your financial affairs, or your health and care.

Legacy, bequest or devise

A gift in a will.

Letters of Administration

This is the official document that gives the personal representative the right to manage the estate, when there is no will.

Personal representative

The person responsible for dealing with the estate of someone who’s died, either the executor or the administrator.

Power of attorney

A legal document where someone appoints a person to act on their behalf, or represent them.

Probate

This refers to the legal right to deal with a deceased person’s affairs. It’s sometimes called ‘administering the estate’.

Probate Registry

The name of the public body responsible for issuing the grants of representation. There are local District Probate Registries around the UK.

Probate loan

A short-term loan offered to the executors or administrators, if Inheritance Tax must be paid before the grant of representation has been issued.

Trustee

The person who is given powers of administration of property in trust.

Will

A legal document that sets out what a person wants to happen to their assets after they die.

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