Probate Glossary



The process carried out by the Executor/Administrator in accordance with the Will or under the Rules of Intestacy to settle any debts, collect in all assets and then pay the gifts (legacies) and residue (residuary Estate)


Person appointed under Letters of Administration (where there is no Will)


Anything the deceased owned of value including property and land, investments, cash, valuable items such as a car, paintings, antiques and jewellery


Person named in the Will to receive a gift or the whole/part of an Estate

Contentious Probate

This is when someone known to the deceased feels they have been treated unfairly and wants to bring a claim against the Estate. They have six months from the issue of a Grant of Probate to issue proceedings


Another name for the government or state - if someone dies without leaving a will and there are no family under the Rules of Intestacy, then the Estate will pass to the Crown and is usually dealt with by the Government Legal Department (used to be known as the Treasury Solicitor) and it is said the Estate is Bona Vacantia - meaning ownerless property

Deed of Variation

This varies the terms of a Will, but can only be made within 2 years of death


This is when all debts have been paid and all assets collected in, the Estate is then distributed to the beneficiaries


The Deceased's entire property and belongings - everything accumulated throughout their life, including any debts


Person(s) (male) appointed under the Will to deal with the administration of the Estate, though this term is now commonly used for both male and female


Same as above but female - although these days just about everyone refers to Executor (Executrix is a bit old fashioned)

Grant of Probate

Official document issued and sealed by the Probate Registry which confirms the Will is valid and the identity of the Executors

Inheritance Tax (IHT)

Tax payable on a deceased's estate if it exceeds a certain amount, currently £325,000.00


Where a person has died without leaving a Will or a valid Will (the Estate is then dealt with under the Rules of Intestacy)


Old fashioned word for children, grandchildren or adopted children of the deceased


These are gifts left to individuals

Letters of Administration

Official document issued by the Probate Registry when there is no Will and the deceased has died intestate - it confirms the identity of the Administrator


Money owed by the deceased to others, such as a mortgage or loan, credit card bill, utility bills or outstanding bills for services

Nil Rate Band

The Inheritance tax threshold of £325,000.00

Pecuniary Legacy

A gift of cash

Personal Representative

General term for both Executor(s) and Administrator(s)

Probate Registry

Part of the family Court - the Probate Registry issue Grants of Probate and Letters of Administration


Will is checked by the Probate Registry and if valid a Grant of Probate is issued

Residue or Residuary Estate

This is what is left in the Estate after payment of any debts, funeral and testamentary expenses and the legacies

Residence Nil Rate Band

This is an additional nil-rate band when a residence is passed on death to a direct descendant.

This will be:

£100,000 in 2017 to 2018

£125,000 in 2018 to 2019

£150,000 in 2019 to 2020

£175,000 in 2020 to 2021

Rules of Intestacy

Strict rules on who can inherit a deceased's Estate based on bloodline

Specific Bequest

These are specific items left under the Will

Statement of Truth

Document signed by Executors/Administrators that the information given about the Estate is true and accurate to the best of their knowledge

Statutory Declaration

Document sworn in front of a Solicitor confirming that information given is correct

Testamentary Expenses

These are costs in connection with the administration of the Estate, which mean expenses incurred on the proper performance of the Executor(s)/Personal Representatives duties. This also includes the cost of obtaining a Grant (if required), professional fees, such as legal advice and paying any inheritance tax due


The person who wrote the Will (sometimes referred to as the Testatrix when female)


A Trust can be created by the Will and puts property and/or cash into trust to be held on behalf of beneficiaries by Trustees

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