Some key legal words and what they mean
Administrator – See below, “Who’s who: Executors and other key people”.
Assets – The property (including money, land, houses and chattels) that someone owns.
Bequest – Property (other than money) disposed of under a will.
Codicil – An additional or supplementary will made after the original will has been signed. The codicil doesn’t cancel the original will. It changes that will or adds to it.
Grant of administration – a general term that covers:
- when the court grants probate for a will, and
- when it appoints someone to manage the estate by granting “letters of administration” (when there’s no will).
Estate – Everything that a person owns or controls at the time of their death.
Executor – See below, “Who’s who: Executors and other key people”.
Intestate – describes the estate of someone who dies leaving no will or whose property is not effectively disposed of under a will.
The laws of intestacy – Laws that determine how, and among whom, any property is divided when someone dies intestate.
Legacy – Money or other property left by a will.
Letters of administration – A High Court order (also known as an “order to administer”) that vests intestate property in an administrator and gives that administrator power to manage an intestate estate.
Personal representative – A general term for the person who manages the deceased person’s estate, who will either be the “executor” (the person appointed to do this under a will) or the “administrator” (the person appointed by the courts to do this under “letters of administration” if there’s no will). For information about executors and administrators, see below, “Who’s who: Executors and other key people”.
Probate – A High Court order that establishes that a will is valid and gives the executor authority to deal with the estate.
Will-maker – A person who makes, changes, revokes or revives a will – such a person used to be called a “testator” (male) or “testatrix” (female).
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