Dealing with probate and administering an estate can be quite technical. Here is a glossary of some of the most commonly used terms.


The process carried out by the Executor/Administrator of collecting in all assets, paying any debts and distributing the estate in accordance with the Will or under the Rules of Intestacy.


Person appointed under Letters of Administration (where there is no Will)


Anything the deceased owned of value. Typically this includes: savings, property and land, investments, cars, antiques and jewellery.


Person named in the Will to receive a gift or the whole/part of an Estate

Contentious Probate

This involves challenging the validity of a Will or where someone feels they have been excluded or not left enough from Estate, amongst other things.


Another name for the government or state. If someone dies without leaving a will and there are no family, then the Estate will pass to the Crown.

Deed of Variation

This has the effect of varying the terms of a Will or intestacy. It can have inheritance tax advantages but to do so must be made within 2 years of death


When all debts have been paid and all assets collected in, the Estate is then distributed to the beneficiaries


The Deceased’s entire property and belongings – everything accumulated throughout their life, including any debts


Person(s) (male) appointed under the Will to deal with the administration of the Estate


Person(s) (female) appointed under the Will to deal with the administration of the Estate – although these days everyone tends to be referred to as an Executor

Grant of Probate

Official document issued and sealed by the Probate Registry which confirms the Will is valid and the identity of the Executors

Inheritance Tax (IHT)

Tax payable on a deceased’s estate if it exceeds a certain amount, currently £325,000.00


Where a person has died without leaving a Will or a valid Will. The Estate is then dealt with according to the Rules of Intestacy.


Old fashioned word for children, grandchildren or adopted children of the deceased


These are gifts left to individuals

Letters of Administration

Official document issued by the Probate Registry when there is no Will


Money owed by the deceased to others. Such as a mortgage or loan, credit card bill or utility bills

Nil Rate Band

The personal Inheritance tax allowance the maximum of which is £325,000.00

Pecuniary Legacy

A gift of cash

Personal Representative

A general term for both Executor(s) and Administrator(s) after a Grant has been issued.

Probate Registry

The Probate Registry issue Grants of Probate and Letters of Administration


Will is checked by the Probate Registry and if valid a Grant of Probate is issued

Residue or Residuary Estate

This is what is left in the Estate after payment of any debts, funeral and testamentary expenses and the legacies

Residence Nil Rate Band

The Inheritance tax allowance relating to property the maximum of which is £175,000.00

Rules of Intestacy

Strict rules on who can inherit a deceased’s Estate based on bloodline

Specific Bequest

These are specific items left under the Will

Statement of Truth

Document signed by Executors/Administrators that the information given about the Estate is true and accurate to the best of their knowledge

Statutory Declaration

Document sworn in front of a Solicitor confirming that information given is correct

Testamentary Expenses

These are the expenses incurred in connection with the administration of the Estate

Testator / Testatrix

The person who wrote the Will (whose Will it is)


A Trust can be created by the Will and puts property and/or cash into trust to be held on behalf of beneficiaries by Trustees