This article intends to ‘break through’ the legal jargon of Will Writing. The terminology associated with writing and executing your Will has been used for almost 200 years and is littered with terms which are old fashioned, written in legalese and even contain some Latin phrases.
The terminology might sound very serious and official, but if nobody really understands what they mean, why are we continuing to use them?
This could even be the main reason people aren’t making their Will.
Some people shy away from making their Will as they fear that they won’t understand the over complicated Will terminology used. That the confusing legal jargon used will mean that they are unable to understand their Wills and ultimately unsure that it will deliver the outcome that they want. So, they just don’t do it.
But please don’t be put off by this! Let’s attempt to break through some of the legal jargon by looking at some of the more common terms used.
We’ve gathered together a list of some of the phrases that you may come across when making your Will or dealing with someone’s estate after they have passed away:
- Assets – the ‘property’ owned by person who has made the Will.
- Beneficiary – a person that benefits from the Will.
- Bequest – a gift left in a Will.
- Chargeable gift – a gift in a Will that Inheritance Tax will need to be paid on.
- Chattels – movable items of personal property, for example, jewellery, art and clothes.
- Codicil – a document that amends (rather than replaces) a Will. A codicil must be signed and witnessed in the same way as a Will. To avoid disputes we would arrange for your Will to be rewritten.
- Deed of Variation – a legal document that allows beneficiaries to change the terms of a Will after someone has passed away.
- Disbursement – a payment made to a third party.
- ‘En ventre sa mere’ – ‘in the womb’ and would cover any children or grandchildren that had been conceived but not yet born.
- Estate – the entirety of all the deceased’s assets.
- Executor – a person or persons appointed in the Will to administer the estate.
- Gift over clause – if your beneficiary is unable or unwilling to accept their bequest, you can nominate a secondary recipient.
- Guardian – someone appointed to look after your children in event of your death before the children have reached the age of 18.
- Intestate/Intestacy – to die without a Will.
- Legacy – a gift of a specific item or cash sum left in a Will (except property).
- Pecuniary legacy – a gift of money.
- Per Stirpes – a method of distributing your estate equally to family members. Often used for grandchildren, including any that may be born after your Will has been made.
- Predeceased – someone who dies before the person who has made the Will – usually a beneficiary.
- Residue – what’s left in the estate once everything else has been taken care of, typically, funeral costs, debts, Inheritance Tax, other taxes, legacies, bequests.
- Residuary beneficiary – a person entitled to the residue of an estate, if any remains.
- Specific legacy – a gift of a specific object under a Will.
- Testator – the person who has made the Will.
- Trust – a legal arrangement you can make to protect your assets and loved ones after you have passed away.
- Trustee – the people that you appoint to manage the Trust.
This is by no means a complete list.
If you wish to discuss your Will requirements or have any questions regarding Will terminology then please contact us.
Is current Will terminology recognised as a problem?
It is widely recognised that Will law and Will terminology just isn’t working in today’s modern world with current estimates predicting that over 40% of the adult population is currently at risk of dying intestate (without a Will).
The Law Commission is currently undertaking a consultation process to determine whether the law can be modernised and improved in order to encourage more people to make a Will. You can contribute here.
Still unsure about making your Will?
If you are putting off writing your Will because you believe that you won’t understand the ‘legalese’ or you are unsure of how to go about it, then there is no need to worry.
To provide you with some much-needed peace of mind, you can discuss your situation and concerns with Natalie from Trusted Wills & Probate Ltd who will guide you through this ‘mine field’ of Will Writing and Succession Planning with ease and confidence. We pride ourselves in making the law understandable, cutting through the legal jargon, giving you clear advice and telling you how it is.
It is a process that can be dealt with relatively quickly, and it can save you hours of stress trying to figure out what is needed.
To make your appointment, or for an informal chat, please feel free to contact me via email: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone: 01953 711 950 / 07972 212 355.
Please note that this information is provided as a guide only and in accordance with the current laws as at the date of publishing.
About me and Trusted Wills & Probate Ltd
My name is Natalie Chapman – company director of Trusted Wills & Probate Ltd, a wife to Darren and a Mum to our twins. To read more about how Trusted Wills & Probate Ltd was establish please click here.
I have personally visited each of my clients and enjoyed my time getting to know each of them, listening to their tales and stories and making sure I fully understand their needs. If you would like to discover what my clients say about us, please feel free to read my client Testimonials.