A List of Legal Terms Used in Will & Probate Law


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The complex and intricate set of laws that govern wills & probate are full of legal terms that for some people, mean nothing, and failure to understand what is happening when dealing with probate matters will only make the experience more stressful. If you have recently suffered a loss in your family, and find it difficult to understand the legal terms , here is a list of common phrases or terms that are used regarding will and probate matters.

  • Last Will & Testament – The correct legal term for a will, the Last Will & Testament is typically drawn up in the presence of a lawyer and witnessed by several people. This document can be very detailed in explaining how the person would like their estate to be distributed in the event of their death, and should be written in clearly understood language. Most people will enlist the help of a wills & probate lawyer when writing a will, and should you require will writing services, an online search will point you in the right direction.
  • Probate – Probate is the legal process of proving the validity of a deceased person’s will, and in most cases, is a straightforward procedure, however, in the case where a family member is dissatisfied, for any reason, and feels that they were unfairly treated in the will, the probate court would be prepared to hear their argument. There are solicitors specialising in contesting wills, who will help such a person to gather and collate supporting evidence for their claim, and with the lawyer’s expert presentation, it is often the case where a decision is favourable to the person contesting the will.
  • Executor – The executor is the person appointed by the person making the will, and it is their responsibility distribute the estate according to the will. There are occasions when a family member is of the opinion the executor is not carrying out their duties, and in such cases, the person should first seek legal counsel, and preferably a lawyer with considerable experience in the Probate Courts. The executor takes on a heavy responsibility, and it is usually a family member of perhaps a very close friend, and someone that the person trusts implicitly to carry out their instructions to the letter.
  • Rules of Intestacy – The term intestacy refers to the situation whereby a person dies without leaving a will, and the estate will be distributed according to the Rules of Intestacy, which are century old British laws, and the sad fact is, on many occasions, the estate is not distributed as the deceased would have wished and close family might suffer as a result. If you have yet to write a Last Will & Testament
  • The Administrator – When a person dies intestate (without leaving a will), the closest relative is appointed as the Administrator, who would take on the role of an executor for a person who did not leave a will.

There are specialised law firms that handle wills & probate matters, and if you are considering making a will, or wish to contest one, it is crucial to seek the advice of an experience wills & probate lawyer.

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