Glossary of Terms for your Last Will and Testaments

your will creator glossary of terms

Making a Will can be a relatively straightforward process and we aim to make it as simple to understand as we possibly can. It is, however, inevitable that you will come across some legal terms, which is why we’ve put together this glossary.

your will creator glossary of terms
    • Administrator: an individual who is legally entitled to administer the estate of someone who is intestate (someone who dies without making a Will).
    • Bequest: a legacy or other specific gift to someone in a Will.
    • Beneficiary: someone who benefits under the terms of a Will.
    • Capacity: the ability of the testator, the person making a Will, to understand that he or she is making a Will, the effects of making a Will and the ability to understand the extent of his or her assets.
    • Child: a child includes an adopted child and a child born as a result of an artificial conception procedure, who is regarded as a person’s child under s60H Family Law Act, 1975. For other circumstances, you should seek specialist legal advice in what is an increasingly complex area.
    • Codicil: a legal document which is a written amendment to the terms of an existing Will. Deceased: a person who has died. Estate: all property and assets left by the deceased. Estate Planning: tax planning with the aim of minimising the inheritance tax liability after death.
    • Executors: those appointed under a Will to administer the estate of someone when he or she dies. Gift Over: a ‘gift over’ clause allows for a situation where a beneficiary, to whom a gift is made, dies before the testator. Instead of allowing the gift to fail, and fall into the residuary estate, an alternative beneficiary can be nominated to inherit the gift instead.
    • Guardian: the person appointed by a Will to take legal responsibility for a child under 18 years of age when the testator dies.
    • Inheritance Tax (IHT): the tax payable on the deceased’s estate, following death, if its value exceeds the inheritance tax threshold.
Last Will and Testament
your will creator glossary of termsyour will creator glossary of terms
  • Intestacy: the estate of someone who has died without leaving a Will (or a valid Will), which is administered and distributed under the statutory rules of intestacy. Intestate: someone who has died without leaving a Will (or valid Will). ‘Testate’ means dying with a Will. Legacy: a specific gift in a Will, to a beneficiary (in this case, often called a ‘legatee’).
  • Last Will and Testament: a written legal document reflecting the wishes of an individual (the ‘testator’) regarding how his or her assets are to be distributed upon their death.
  • Letter of Wishes: an informal document expressing someone’s wishes regarding matters such as funeral arrangements and care of children by guardians.
  • Letters of Administration: a court document giving legal authority to the administrator(s) of a Will, to administer the estate of someone who dies without leaving a Will.
  • Mirror Wills: virtually identical Wills, often made by married couples. They usually leave his/her estate to each other and, when the survivor dies, to the children/grandchildren.
  • Personal Representatives: the collective term for administrators and executors who have the legal responsibility to administer the estate of a deceased person.
  • Probate: a court document evidencing the power conferred on the executors in the Will to administer the estate.
  • Residuary Estate: everything left in the estate after debts, inheritance tax and expenses are paid out, and all legacies and gifts paid or distributed to the beneficiaries entitled under the Will.
  • Residuary Beneficiary: those entitled to the residuary estate under the Will.
  • Testator/Testatrix: a person who makes a Will.
  • Trust: a legal mechanism by which property or money is held ‘on trust’ by trustees (either individuals or an entity) for the benefit of another person (or persons) who are known as the ‘beneficiary/ies’ under the trust.
  • Trustee: a person or entity with legal and administrative responsibility to look after and administer assets for the benefit of others.
  • Will: a legal document setting out a testator’s wishes regarding what is to happen to the estate on death. A Will must comply with specific legal requirements for it to be legally valid.
your will creator glossary of terms