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Glossary


Beneficiaries - the individuals, organisations and charities which benefit under a deceased's Will. 

Codicil - a document signed by the deceased which amends their Will. A codicil usually only includes minor changes which do not warrant a full re-write of the Will itself. A Codicil must be validly signed and must be carefully drafted to ensure it only makes the changes intended. 

Deed of Variation - a document that can be used to vary a person's Will or, if they have died without a Will, to vary who inherits assets. This can be to make distributions fairer, to make an estate more tax efficient, or as part of a beneficiary’s own tax planning. 

Estate - the total assets a person owns when they die - for example their house, bank accounts etc. 

Executor - individuals appointed under a Will to deal with the deceased's estate. 

Grant of Probate - document obtained from the Probate Registry when the deceased dies having left a Will, which allows the Executors to collect in and/or sell assets. 

Grant of Representation - general term used to refer to Grants of Probate and Letters of Administration. 

Inheritance Tax - the tax paid on a deceased's estate when they die, if the estate exceeds the Nil Rate Band (currently £325,000). Anything above this is taxed at 40% (or 36% in some specific cases) unless exemptions apply. 

Intestacy and Rules of Intestacy - when a person dies without having made a Will, or if their Will is invalid, they are said to have died intestate. The distribution of their estate will be governed by statutory rules which may not reflect how they would have wanted their estate to be dealt with. 

Letters of Administration - document obtained from the Probate Registry when the deceased dies intestate (i.e. without a Will), which allows the Executors to collect in and/or sell assets. 

Nil Rate Band - the allowance given to each individual for Inheritance Tax purposes which is taxed at 0% (i.e. tax free). This is currently £325,000 

Personal Representatives - general term to refer to those dealing with a deceased estate (i.e. Executors or Administrators). 

Probate Registry - the section of the High Court that deals with applications for Grants of Representation and other related matters. 

Trusts - where assets are held by Trustees for the beneficiaries of the trust, subject to guidance and powers set out in a trust deed. 

Will - document signed by the deceased, or signed at their request which details how they wish their estate to be dealt with. A Will must be valid in accordance with the Wills Act, and will be revoked by future Wills or marriage.