Where the assets in an estate are insufficient to meet all legacies, the amount of the legacies are reduced to pro rate. This process is referred to as abatement.


A gift fails by ademption if the property identified in the will does not form part of the estate of the testator at the date of death.

Adminitstrator (Feminine = Administratrix)  

A person empowered by the grant of letters of administration to deal with the estate of anyone who has died without leaving a will or without effectively appointing an executor in his will.


The release of capital or assets to a beneficiary out of his notional share of the trust fund, prior to the time when he is entitled to benefit.


A statement made in writing and on oath which is sworn or affirmed before and individual who has authority to administer oaths.


No effective until the testator dies.


A fixed sum payable at specified intervals over a specified period.


The allocation of a specific part of the estate in satisfaction of a particular entitlement.


The document by which personal representatives pass the legal title to land to the person entitled to it under the terms of the deceased’s will or the intestacy rules.


To bear witness to something.

Attestation clause

A clause found at the end of a deed or document which confirms that a party to the deed or document has signed the same in the presence of a witness.


A person empowered by the grant of a power of attorney to act on behalf of another person.



 An individual receiving a legacy or benefit under a will or on intestacy.


A legacy or gift.

Bona vacantia

On intestacy, where there is no relative entitled to benefit, the estate passes as bonna vacantia to the Crown or the Duke of Cornwall or the Duchy of Lancaster.



This acts as a stop on an estate, preventing the issue of a grant.

Certified copy

A copy of a document which is certified by the solicitor in whose custody the original is held, as being a true copy of that original document.


Personal property including furniture, furnishings and movable goods.


A citation is used to speed up the issue of a grant of representation where the executor or other person entitled in the priority to the grant is failing to take action.


A document, attested in the same way as a will, which amends an existing will.

Commissioner for oaths

A solicitor or legal executive empowered to administer oaths.


A document which transfers legal title to freehold land from the seller to the buyer.


An agreement or promise embodied in a deed by which a party binds himself to undertake or to refrain from undertaking a particular action. A covenant can also be worded to be binding on land.



A person who has died.


A document executed with the necessary formalities to make it into a deed.


A gift of real property by will.

Donatio mortis causa

A gift made in contemplation of death which is perfected and becomes effective on the death of the person making the gift.


A person receiving property by way of gift.


A person transferring property by way of gift.


En ventre sa mère

An unborn child in the mother’s womb.

Enduring power of attorney

A deed made prior to 1 October 2007 by which a person authorises a third party to act on his behalf, the authority conveyed by the deed continuing even where the donor becomes mentally incapable.


The assets and property belonging to a deceased person. It may have a different meaning for IHT purposes.


The act of signing a deed or document such as a will with all necessary formality.

Executor (Feminine: Executrix)

A person appointed by a will to deal with the administration of an estate.




Grant of probate

The grant issued to an executor confirming his appointment and authority to deal with the administration of an estate.

Grant of representation

The collective term for a grant of probate or letters of administration.



Handwritten; alternatively a document which is entirely the personal written work of the testator.


In extremis

At the point of death.


An arrangement or agreement to protect an individual against loss, damage or expense.


A person who has died without leaving a valid will or without disposing of all his estate by will.


Joint and several

Where the parties to an agreement declare themselves to be jointly and severally liable, they are stating that both of them accept liability for the whole debt or obligation and not simply for a proportionate part of it.

Joint tenants

Where co-owners of a property own as joint tenants, on the death of one co-owner, the property automatically passes and belong to the survivor(s) by reason of survivorship. The interest of a deceased joint tenant does not fall into his estate for succession purposes.




Lasting power of attorney

A deed made on or after 1 October 2007 by which a person authorises a third party to act on his behalf in relation to personal welfare and/or his property and financial affairs. The authority continues even when the donor becomes mentally incapable.


A gift under a will. A gift of money is referred to as a pecuniary legacy and a gift of a particular item is referred to as a specific legacy.

Letters of administration

The official document issued by the court empowering an administrator to deal with the estate of a deceased person.

Life assured

The individual whose life is insured under a life assurance policy.

Life tenant

A person under a trust or settlement who has a life interest, that is, the right to receive the income or enjoy possession of the trust property for life (or a lesser period).





Orally declared.



A sworn document.


Per Capita

See Per stirpes.

Per stirpes

A method of dividing an estate so that each branch of the family receives an equal share, regardless of how many people are in each branch. So, if A and B are the children of the deceased, but B has already dies having left children C, D, E and F (as grandchildren of the original deceased), then A receives one half and each of B’s four children receive one-eight of the estate (essentially, by sharing B’s half). Per stirpes is different from per capita, because if per capita distribution is prescribed, then each person is treated equally rather than each branch and so, in the example, A, C, D, E and F would each receive one-fifth.


Continuing indefinitely, forever.

Personal Representative (PR)

The generic term used to describe executors and administrators.


A collection of different shareholdings or other investments.


(1) An example of a document which can then be adapted for use in connection with similar transactions.

(2) The decision of a court which is then referred to and possibly followed in subsequent similar cases.


See Grant of probate.




Real property

The term used to describe land as opposed to personal possession.

Remoteness of vesting

Any gift made by will is void by remoteness of vesting if it does not necessarily take effect within the permitted perpetuity period.


Settled land

Land held in trust under a special type of settlement made prior to 1997 where the trust usually grants lifetime rights or interests in a property to successive generations of a family.


Someone who creates a trust or settlement during his lifetime.

Standing Search

A formal application to the Probate Registry to ascertain information about a grant.


An Act of Parliament.

Statutory declaration

A sworn or affirmed statement made in writing before a person entitled to administer oaths. It differs form an affidavit in that is has force by virtue of an Act of Parliament.

Strict settlement

See Settled land.

Sui juris

Full age and capacity.


Tenant for life

An individual who had lifetime rights in respect of settled land.

Tenants in common

Where co-owners own a property as tenants in common, each co-owner has a defined share or interest and, on death, this will pass in accordance with his will or the intestacy rules and will nor necessarily pass to the surviving co-owners.


A will or codicil.

Testamentary disposition

A gift made by will or codicil.

Testator (Feminine: Testatrix)

The individual making a will or codicil.


An individual entrusted with the legal title to and management of property, but who holds the same for the benefit of others.




Vesting assent

See Assent.



The document by which a testator gives instructions for the disposal of his estate on his death.






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