Language of Wills

You may find the following glossary of terms helpful in understanding the language of Wills:

A person who receives a benefit under a Will.

Personal and household possessions e.g. furniture, pictures, cars, ornaments etc. The grand total of everything that an individual owns.


Everything owned by a person who has died is known as their estate. The estate may be made up of:

  • money, both cash and money in a bank or building society account. This could include money paid out on a life insurance policy
  • money owed to the person who has died
  • shares
  • property, for example, their home
  • personal possessions, for example, their car or jewellery.

Those persons appointed in a Will to look after the affairs of the Testator when they have died. It may be that an individual only appoints one Executor but in certain cases more than one is required.

“Inheritance Tax”
The tax on estates that may be payable on an individual’s death depending on the size of their estate. It is currently 40% on the estate excess above £325,000*April 2009.

A specified sum of money or an article left to someone in a Will.

What remains after specific legacies and the payment of all debts, funeral expenses etc. From this word we get the expression “Residuary Beneficiary”. A residuary beneficiary is the person or one of the people who is entitled to receive whatever is left over after payment of all other legacies and debts.

The person making a Will. If the person making a Will is a female then she is known as the Testatrix.

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