glossary of legal terms (england & wales)


The person who deals with the estate if deceased has died intestate.


The legal document used to transfer property (land or buildings) by the Personal Representative to a beneficiary of the Estate.

Beneficial Joint Tenancy

Property (land or buildings) held in joint names where deceased’s share of property automatically transfers to survivor.


A person or an organisation which will receive a benefit from the Estate.


A document altering, adding or revoking an existing will.


All the assets and property of the person who has died including houses, cars, investments, money and belongings.

Estate Administration

Describes the whole process of sorting out deceased’s affairs.


The person who is appointed in the will to deal with the Estate Administration.

Grant of Representation 

It is the legal document which will either be a Grant of Probate or a Grant of Letters of Administration. It gives the person named in the document the legal right to deal with the Estate Administration.


An extension of the confirmation of an executor to cover property not originally included, in the estate of the deceased.


The person who registers death at Probate Registry.

Inheritance Tax

Tax which is paid when a deceased’s estate exceeds a certain amount (currently £285,000).

Insolvent Estate

Where the estate is bankrupt in that the debts exceed the assets.


Any child or descendant of a child. A child includes illegitimate and adopted children.


The legal rule which have to be followed where there is no will. The rules set out who can administer the estate and who will be the beneficiaries of the estate.


The person who dies without making a will.


A gift, bequest or benefit derived by the legatee from the will of a deceased person.


Any person who receives a gift under a will.

Letters of Administration

The legal document issued by the Probate Registry giving the administrator legal authority to deal with the estate.


Any person under age of 18.

Nil Rate Band

The value of an estate up to which Inheritance Tax is not payable.

Personal Chattels

Personal belongings including jewellery, furniture, cars etc, etc.

Personal Representation

General term used to refer to both administrators and executors.

Power of Attorney

Document where you give a person legal authority to deal with your affairs on your behalf. It lasts for a period of one year. It ceases to be valid if you lose mental capacity. If you want a Power of Attorney to continue after losing mental capacity you must grant an Enduring Power of Attorney.


The legal document issued by the Probate Registry giving the executor legal authority to deal with the estate.

Probate Registry

Court within the Family Division of the High Court which deals with Probate and Administration matters. Principal Registry is in London and there are district registries in cities and some large towns.

Residuary Estate

What remains of deceased’s estate after all debts, expenses and legacies have been paid, the person or persons sharing the remainder being residuary legatees.


The person who has written the will.

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