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Wills & Probate Glossary

Asset

An asset is an item of property owned by a person, such as a bank account, a property or a vehicle.

Attorney

An attorney is a person appointed to act on behalf of another individual.

Beneficiaries

These are the people who will eventually benefit from an estate. They are either named in the deceased person's will or are entitled to benefit under the intestacy laws. Beneficiaries do not own anything until it is handed on to them by the executors or administrators of the estate. The right of the beneficiaries until this point is to have the estate properly administered for their benefit.

Certificate provider

A certificate provider is, for the purposes of a lasting power of attorney, someone who reads through a donor's lasting power of attorney with them and then signs to confirm the donor's understanding of the lasting power of attorney that they have signed. A certificate provider cannot be under the age of 18, a member of the donor's or attorney's family, a business partner or paid employee of the donor or attorney, the owner, director, manager or an employee of a care home in which the donor live

Contentious Probate

Contentious probate is a specialist legal discipline which covers disputes relating to the administration of a deceased's person's estate. It includes disputes over the validity of wills (for example, where it is alleged that the person making the will was not mentally competent to do so) and claims for "reasonable provision" if a member of the deceased's family argues that the deceased did not provide for them appropriately under their will.

Court of Protection

The Court of Protection has jurisdiction over the property and financial affairs and health and welfare of individuals who lack mental capacity. The Court makes decisions on financial or welfare matters in the best interests of people who are unable to make decisions at the time they need to be made.

Deputy

A deputy is somebody who is appointed by the Court of Protection to make decisions on behalf of an individual who does not have the mental capacity to deal with their own affairs on an ongoing basis.

Donor

The donor is the person who appoints an attorney under a power of attorney.

Enduring Power of Attorney

An enduring power of attorney (EPA) is a document which authorises someone to act on another person's behalf in financial matters, even if the person who made the EPA has lost capacity. It has not been possible to make new EPAs since 1 October 2007, but EPAs signed before this date remain valid.

Estate

An estate consists of all the property a person owns or controls and is the total of a person's assets, legal rights interests and entitlement to property of any kind.

Executor

An executor is the person appointed under a will to manage the administration of a deceased person's estate when they die.

Grant of representation

This includes a grant of probate (when there is a will) and a grant of letters of administration (when there is no will). Often people just refer to a "grant of probate" even if there is no will.

Guardian

In a will you can incorporate a clause that appoints someone to be legally responsible for your children, should you die while they are under the age of 18.

Incapacity

Incapacity is a mental condition resulting in a person's inability to continue to manage their own affairs or to take a decision about a particular issue.

Inherit

To take or receive (property, a right, title etc.) by succession or will as an heir.

Inheritance Tax

Inheritance tax (IHT) is paid on death when a person's estate is worth more than the current inheritance tax allowance. Inheritance tax is also payable on certain lifetime gifts. There are various exemptions and reliefs available which may reduce the liability to inheritance tax and therefore consultation with solicitors specialising in this area is important.

Insolvent Estate

Where the deceased died leaving debts and there are insufficient assets in the estate to pay those debts, the estate is said to be "insolvent". Such assets as there are will have to be sold and the funds raised will be used to settle the debts in part. The law sets out a strict order in which debts must be paid and failure to comply can have serious personal consequences for the executor of an insolvent estate.

Intestate

A person who dies without having made a valid will is said to die "intestate". The law sets out how the intestate estate is to be shared between the deceased's relatives. Sometimes this means that very distant relatives will inherit the estate. If the deceased died without any family at all then the estate will pass to the Crown.

Lasting Powers of Attorney

There are two types of lasting powers of attorney ("LPA"): one which deals with a person's property and finances and the other which governs their health and welfare. These documents can be drawn up by an individual to give power to their chosen attorney to deal with matters on their behalf. A property and financial affairs LPA can be used (if the donor wishes) while they still have mental capacity and can continue to be used should the donor lose mental capacity. A health and welfare LPA can

Probate

Probate is the process of sorting out somebody's estate, their property, money and possessions after they have died. A "grant of probate" is a document issued by the Court which confirms the will and authorises the executor of the estate to access the deceased person's assets.

Trust

A trust is a way of managing money, investments, land or other assets. Assets held in trust are legally owned by trustees. The trustees look after the assets for the person or people who will ultimately benefit from the assets (the beneficiaries). There are many different types of trust, some of which are more complex than others. The tax treatment of the trust will vary depending upon the type of trust.

Wealth management

Wealth management is a high level professional service that combines financial and investment advice, accounting and tax services, retirement planning and legal or estate planning.

Will

A will or testament is a legal document by which a person (the testator) sets out their wishes as to how their property is to be distributed at death and names one or more people as the executors to manage the estate until its final distribution. A will may also include instructions for matters such as the testator's funeral, guardianship of young children and arrangements for looking after pets.

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