probate glossary

"They understood my needs/requirements and made the whole process an easy jargon free event"

~ Emily, from Durrington

If you do not work in the world of Probate, there will be terms and phrases that can confuse you, and that’s why we created this Probate Glossary. It’s a difficult time whatever the circumstances, and we are here to help you understand the process. Get in touch if you are still looking for a Probate solicitor.


The process carried out by the Executor/Administrator in accordance with the Will or under the Rules of Intestacy to wind-up the deceased’s affairs which includes, collecting in all assets, dealing with payment of any debts and liabilities and distributing the Estate to include giving of specific gifts (items) payment of gifts (legacies) and distribution of residue (residuary Estate)


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


Anything the deceased owned of value including property and land, investments, cash, valuable items such as a car, paintings, antiques and jewellery.


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

Contentious Probate

This is when someone known to the deceased feels they have been treated unfairly and wants to bring a claim against the Estate. They have six months from the issue of a Grant of Probate to issue proceedings.


Another name for the government or state - if someone dies without leaving a will and there are no family under the Rules of Intestacy, then the Estate will pass to the Crown and is usually dealt with by the Government Legal Department (used to be known as the Treasury Solicitor) and it is said the Estate is Bona Vacantia - meaning ownerless property.

Deed of Variation

This varies the terms of a Will, but can only be made within 2 years of death.


This is 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, though this term is now commonly used for both male and female.


Same as above but female - although these days just about everyone refers to Executor (Executrix is a bit old fashioned).

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 for a single person. Inheritance tax is not payable where an Estate passes to the surviving spouse.


Where a person has died without leaving a Will or a valid Will (the Estate is then dealt with under 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 and the deceased has died intestate – it confirms the identity of the Administrator.


Money owed by the deceased to others, such as a mortgage or loan, credit card bill, utility bills or outstanding bills for services.

Nil Rate Band

The Inheritance tax threshold of £325,000.00.


Document sworn by Executors/Administrators in front of an independent Solicitor that the information given about the Estate is true and accurate to the best of their knowledge.

Percuniary Legacy

A gift of cash.

Personal Representative

General term for both Executor(s) and Administrator(s).

Probate Registry

Part of the family Court - 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.

Rules of Intestacy

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

Specific Bequest

These are specific items gifted under the Will.

Statutory Declaration

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

Testamentory Expenses

These are costs in connection with the administration of the Estate, which mean expenses incurred on the proper performance of the Executor(s)/Personal Representatives duties. This also includes the cost of obtaining a Grant (if required) and professional fees, such as legal advice.


The person who made the Will (sometimes referred to as the Testatrix when female).


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.

Are you looking for assistance as you arrange Probate?

Whatever stage you're at, you may need some legal help during the Probate process. Yes, you can arrange Probate yourself but you need to understand what's involved, as well as the risks.

We at Best Value Probate​ offer a bespoke Probate service with fixed fees for our clients.