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Abatement

a reduction in the amount of legacies, debts or claims where an estate is insufficient to pay all in full

Absolute interest

an interest whereby the beneficiary is completely entitled immediately and without restriction or condition

Accumulation

the retaining and re-investment of interest

Acquisition/probate value

the value at which either the personal representatives or the beneficiary acquires the assets

Adeem/ademption

the complete or partial extinction of a specific bequest as a result of the Testator/Testatrix having gifted, sold or otherwise disposed of it during their lifetime (other than by revocation)

Administration, Letters of

granted by a court to administrators (usually the next of kin) to give them the authority they need to act and to administer/distribute the estate where no will has been made

Affidavit/oath

a written statement of evidence confirmed on oath or by affirmation that it is true

Apportionment

the division of income in proportionate shares between certain beneficiaries, calculated on a day-to-day basis

Appropriation

the transfer of an asset (instead of its sale proceeds) on account of a legacy or share of residue

Assets

generally speaking, everything that a person owns

Attorney

a person appointed by another to act in his or her place

Beneficiary

anyone who receives anything from a will

Bequest

a gift left in a will

Bona vacantia

a term for ownerless property which passes by law to the Crown

Chargeable gift

a gift on which inheritance tax may be charged

Chattels

personal possessions ie clothes/furniture as distinct from land

Citation

calling on someone to do something

Codicil

a modifying clause added to a will

Commissioner for Oaths

a person entitled to administer oaths

Contingent gift

a gift that is conditional on the occurrence of a particular event, i.e. a beneficiary reaching the age of 21

Crown or Treasury

a term used to refer to the government. If you do not have a will and have no next of kin, the Crown will receive your estate following your death.

De bonis non

unadministered assets

Devise

a gift by will of freehold property

Devolution

the passing of property by the process of law

Discretionary Trust

where assets are left in a will to trustees whose discretion it is to decide who should receive it

Enduring Power of Attorney

a document giving legal authority for others to conduct your affairs. These have now been replaced by Lasting Powers of Attorney (see below) but will be valid if made before 1 October 2007

Engross

to prepare a document for signature

Estate

the total value of everything you own at your death, less any outstanding commitments

Executors

the people chosen to implement a persons will

Grant of representation

the court order authorising a person to deal with the assets of the deceased. If a will appoints executors, it is called a grant of probate; otherwise, a grant of letters of administration (with or without a will annexed).

Guardian

someone selected to look after the interests of a child under 18 years of age

Inheritance Act claim

A claim by someone for better provision under the will of someone from whom they were receiving financial support

Inheritance Tax

tax payable on the transfer of assets either during an individual's lifetime or on his or her death

Intestacy

the situation that arises when someone dies without making a will

Legacy

a gift left in a will (also see pecuniary legacy)

Life interest

the right to enjoy for life (or until a specified time period has elapsed or an event has occurred) an asset which will eventually revert to the original estate on the expiry of the term

LPA

Lasting Power of Attorney

Marshalling

the order of payment as between creditors and beneficiaries

Next of kin

the nearest blood relative

Pecuniary Legacy

a gift of money under a will

Power of Attorney

a legal document in which one person gives another the power to carry out actions on their behalf behalf but which is only valid to the extent for the performance of those actions and whilst the person giving the power has capacity (see Enduring and Lasting Powers of Attorney)

Predeceased

someone who dies before the individual who has made the will

Probate, Grant of

the document which confirms to executors that they have authority to act, and which validates the will

Realisation

converting estate assets into cash

Renouncing probate

the act whereby a named executor signs a legal document which cancels his/her appointment

Residue

the remainder of the estate after the payment of all debts, taxes, administration expenses, legacies and bequests under the will

Reversionary Interest

interest in trust property after the expiry of a life interest

Revocation

cancellation by an act, event or order of court

Testator/Testatrix

the person making the will

Trust

a legal structure allowing assets to be held for the benefit of other parties

Trustee

the person who holds property in the trust and is responsible for administering them in accordance with the terms of the trust

Variation, Deed of

an arrangement whereby selected provisions of a will may be varied by consent of the beneficiaries

Vested interest

right to immediate or future entitlement

Will

a document declaring how an individual wishes to dispose of their assets upon his or her death

Witness

an individual must be seen signing their will by two witnesses, and he or she is then required to watch the witnesses sign the document. The witnesses must also watch each other sign the will. No beneficiary (or their spouse) should sign the will; if they do, any gift to them or their spouse will be invalid.

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