Wills/Probate Legal Terms Explained

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Beneficiary:

A beneficiary is someone who is left something by the person making the will. They can be an executor of the will but cannot be a witness to the will.

Bequest:

This is the legal term for a specific gift left to someone in a will.

Estate:

The word estate is used to describe your assets including foreign assets, property held in your own name, any accounts held in financial institutions, insurance policies, the contents of your house, your car, stock, machinery, prize bonds etc.

Executor:

An executor is a person/persons whose job it is to ensure that the terms of the Will are carried out. They are very often family members, friends or professionals and are named in the will. It is wise to appoint more than one in case the other is unable or unwilling to act.

Intestate:

This is the legal term used to describe someone who dies without making a will.

Marriage and Wills:

A will is revoked by marriage so if you have made a will and then get married your will is obsolete and you must make a new will if you want to have a say in how your assets are passed on. You can however make a will “in contemplation” of marriage, which will remain valid after you get married.

Residue:

The residue of your estate is all that is left to be distributed after you have made provision for specific beneficiaries in your will. It is always advisable to put in a residue clause.

Testator/testatrix:

This is simply the legal term for the person who makes their will. Testatrix is the female of the term.

Witnesses:

A Will must be signed in the presence of two witnesses who cannot be beneficiaries in the Will.

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