The Law Shop is now closed. Please click here to find out more.

Wills and Probate Legal Terms Glossary

It's important for everyone to have an up-to-date Will, but many people are put off by all the jargon involved. This glossary explains some of the more confusing terms you might come across when you’re looking into making a Will.


If someone dies without a Will, or the Will didn’t name any executors, the people distributing the assets are referred to as administrators. The administrators are those who would benefit from the Will, or blood relatives if no Will exists. If a Will does name executors but they refuse to act then an administrator would be sought.


A person who benefits from a Will.


A caveat is a method of temporarily stopping probate from being carried out. If you enter a caveat, the executor of the estate will not be able to get the Grant of Probate before the caveat runs out. Caveats are often used to create time to work out whether there are grounds to oppose someone’s application for probate or bring estate matters before the Court. Examples of this can be when there is a dispute between two or more people being equally entitled to apply for probate or an allegation concerning the Will itself.


A codicil can be made to a Will to add, change, or remove some aspect of a Will. This can be an alternative to completely replacing a Will, however, this is not recommended when making significant changes to a Will.


All of the deceased's assets which includes their property, money and possessions.


An executor is a named person in a Will to carry out duties for the deceased. The executor will need to take care of various administrative and tax-related issues such as distributing the estate to beneficiaries and preparing the Income Tax Return.

Inheritance tax

Inheritance tax is a tax payable on estates worth £325,000 or more when the owner passes away.


Intestacy occurs when an individual passes away without a valid Will. This means that the deceased's wishes for who should inherit their wealth will be disregarded and their estate must be shared according to the rules of intestacy.

Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)

Lasting power of attorney grants an individual (known as the attorney) the legal ability to act on another person’s behalf on a range of matters including their financial affairs and personal wellbeing when that person is losing or at risk of losing the mental capacity to make their own decisions.

Enduring Power of Attorney

Enduring Power of Attorney has now been replaced by Lasting Power of Attorney which grants a wider variety of powers to the attorney and allows the grantor to decide which aspects of their life they wish to grant the attorney legal jurisdiction over, whereas the Enduring Power of Attorney only allowed people to deal with property and financial affairs, not welfare issues. It is still possible to register an Enduring Power of Attorney if it was created before the 1st October 2007, but you cannot create a new one.

Living Will

Rather than setting out your wishes for what will happen to your money, possessions and property, a Living Will specifies your wishes for any care or medical treatment you may receive in the future, even if you are unable to communicate those wishes when the time comes. The term ‘Living Will’ is an unofficial name and usually refers to one of two different types of document – an Advance Decision or an Advance Statement. More information on these documents can be found in our Living Will section.


Probate is the process of dealing with someone’s money, possessions and final wishes after they die. If the person who has died left a Will, he or she may have specified who should carry out the probate process.


A person who has made a Will.


There are two basic forms of trust; living trusts and trusts after you die. The latter are known as testamentary trusts. Trusts are a useful, if sometimes complex, legal way of giving your money, property or shares to others, whilst ensuring that you or others that you trust retain some control over what happens to those assets.


The Wills Act 1837 requires 2 people to witness the signing of a Will and these people must add their details to the Will to prove this. The witnesses cannot be beneficiaries of the Will, spouses of beneficiaries or related to the person who the Will belongs to.