Legal terms explained
Here at Law on the Web, we do our best to avoid confusing legal jargon, but it’s inevitable that law terms come up from time to time. If you’re confused by any of the terminology in our Wills section, take a look through our list of definitions.
– These are the people who you plan to leave something to in your will, so you need to choose them carefully. There is no limit on the number of beneficiaries you can have, and they can be either individuals or organisations. They can either be beneficiaries of gifts, allowing you to leave them particular items you own or a specific amount of money, or they may be residual beneficiaries, which means they will inherit everything which is left of your estate after other gifts have been distributed and any debts have been paid off. You should also take into account the possibility that one or more of your beneficiaries could die before you do. Fortunately, it is possible to provide for this eventuality in your will.
– These are the people you have selected to deal with the management and distribution of your estate when you have passed away. This is obviously a very important role and you should make sure that you choose somebody who is trustworthy and responsible, as well as being capable of dealing with the responsibilities involved. It can be a daunting task, as an executor is held liable for anything which goes wrong during the administration of the estate. Be certain to take time considering who would suit the role and discuss it with them, and to choose someone who is able to work well with your beneficiaries and will have the time to deal with all the possible complexities and complications of your will. You can select just one executor if you like, but it is generally advisable to choose 2-4. This ensures that there are enough people to shoulder the burden and that if one of them chooses to If you are not sure that anyone you know would be suited to do this, you can use a professional organisation offering estate administration services.
Guardians - These are people named in your Will to look after your children if both of their parents should pass away. They will be responsible for any children under 18 years of age and have to raise them and look after their day-to-day needs like a parent would. Obviously it’s important that you select someone who you feel would be suited to bring up your children, as well as talking it over with the potential guardian/s to ensure that they are able and willing to do so.
Trustees – If your will sets out a trust or trusts, then you will need to also specify trustees who will be put in charge of them. They will be responsible for handling any trusts and ensuring that the money or property left over is used in the best interest of the trustees. You can select 1-4 trustees and it’s important that you pick people who are responsible and reliable to ensure that the contents of your trusts are distributed as you would have wished. Trustees can be the people you have also named as executors.
Estate – Your estate consists of everything you own, all of your property, possessions and savings, minus any debts you may owe to others. Your Will is used to distribute your estate, specifying which parts of it you wish to leave to which people.
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