Joint and several liability – where two or more persons enter into an obligation, each is liable individually and they are all liable jointly. For example, one or more can be sued as individuals and they can also be sued jointly.
Joint tenancy – the ownership of land by more than one person; on the death of one joint owner the land passes to the survivor(s). When only one survives he/she takes the land and can then dispose of it by Will.
Jurisdiction – the district or limits within which the judgments or orders of a court can be enforced or executed.
Lapsed gift – a gift in a Will which has failed (because the donee has predeceased the testator, dissolved, or cannot be identified). More about Gifting in your Will.
Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) – a document you create before you lose mental capacity which appoints an attorney to deal with your affairs should you lose mental capacity. LPAs must be registered with the OPG before they can be used and this can be done at any time. A property and finance LPA, once registered, can be used before mental capacity is lost, but a health and welfare LPA, once registered, may only be used once mental capacity has been lost. More about Lasting Powers of Attorney.
Legacy – a gift of your personal property by your Will. More about Gifting in your Will.
Letters of Administration – the Grant of Representation issued by the Probate Registry if you die intestate. Issued to your next of kin.
Life Interest – a beneficiary‘s entitlement under a trust to the income produced by the trust fund during the beneficiary’s lifetime. More about Will Trusts.
Life tenant – beneficiary under a trust creating a life interest. More about Will Trusts.
Living Will – see Advance Decisions.
Minor – an individual under the age of 18 years (in England and Wales).
Mirror Wills – a pair of Wills in almost identical terms. Many spouses/partners have mirror Wills in which they leave their estate to the same ultimate beneficiaries named in both Wills who would benefit on the death of the surviving spouse/partner. The survivor can however still change the terms of his/her Will.
Nearest relative – under the Mental Health Act 2005, the order of precedence is: Husband or Wife; Son or Daughter; Father or Mother; Brother or Sister; Grandparent; Grandchild; Uncle or Aunt; Nephew or Niece.
Next of kin – although there is no legal definition (see nearest relative), this is generally understood by healthcare professionals to refer to a husband, wife or close blood relative who should be contacted in case of emergency.
Nil rate band (NRB) – the amount that HMRC allows you to pass on to those other than your spouse/registered civil partner without Inheritance Tax being payable upon it.
Nil rate band discretionary trust – a trust which gives your trustees discretion over when, and to whom, they distribute the nil rate band portion of your estate. A common form of Inheritance Tax mitigation for unmarried couples.
Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) – a department of the Ministry of Justice which deals with the affairs of the mentally incapable in conjunction with the Court of Protection.
Parental responsibility – all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law a parent has in relation to the child and his/her property. See more about Appointing Guardians.
Partial intestacy – where a valid Will has been executed by you which does not dispose of the whole of your estate. Avoidable by proper Will drafting and estate planning.
Patient of the Court – an individual who, by virtue of his/her mental incapacity, is incapable of managing his/her own affairs.
Pecuniary legacy – a gift of money in your Will of a specific amount. See more about Gifting in your Will.
Personal chattels – all your household furniture and personal effects, except goods used for business purposes, money, bank balances or securities for money.
Personal representatives – a generic term for Administrators and Trustees.
Per stirpes – literally “by the root”; a gift to a child or other issue which lapses for any reason will pass down to the issue of that beneficiary. A statutory presumption, unless the Will states otherwise.
Pilot Trust – a trust created during your lifetime to receive assets on your death, useful for Inheritance Tax planning.
Probate – The process, after your death, by which your affairs are settled and your Will is validated. Your Executor obtains a Grant of Probate before they can distribute your estate according to your instructions.
Property and Finance Lasting Power of Attorney – a Lasting Power of Attorney, covering decisions about your property and financial affairs, including paying your bills, collecting your benefits, selling your house or managing your investments.
Protective Property Trust – A stipulation that, upon your death, your share of the property is put in trust allowing your spouse or partner to continue to live in the property for their lifetime. On their death the property would be given to your children or other beneficiaries.
Potentially exempt transfer (PET) – a lifetime gift which would be subject to Inheritance Tax if you do not live for seven years after the date of the transfer.
Public Trustee – an officer appointed by the Lord Chancellor to act as a custodian trustee.
Reading over clause – an attestation clause, required if your signature is shaky, erratic or feeble, which enables the witnesses to your Will to confirm that you understood and approved the contents of that Will.
Realty – freehold land, immovable property.
Remainderman – the person who takes the capital of an estate on the death of the life tenant.
Residuary estate, residue – the balance of your estate after all debts, taxes and specific gifts have been paid. More about Estate Administration and Probate.
Reversionary interest – any right to the ownership of property at a future date.
Revoke, revocation – cancelling a Will.
Settlement – an arrangement by which property is held in trust, generally for several beneficiaries in succession, some of them unborn at the time of making the settlement.
Settlor – the individual making a settlement.
Severance of joint tenancy – the conversion of an equitable joint tenancy in land into a tenancy in common.
Survivorship – where a jointly held asset passes automatically to the surviving joint owner/s on death.
Survivorship clause – a Will clause which states that, in order for someone to inherit or act as executor, they must survive the testator for a stated time period.
Taper relief – when a potentially exempt transfer (PET) is made, the amount of Inheritance Tax which would be charged upon it should you die reduces, once three years has elapsed, by 20% per year until the gift is free of Inheritance Tax if the donor survives seven years after the date of the gift.
Tenancy in common – a way for more than one owner to hold property in distinct shares. Each tenant in common owns his/her own share and may dispose of it freely in his/her Will or during his/her lifetime.
Testamentary – legally disposing of personal property on death.
Testamentary expenses – the expenses incurred in obtaining probate or letters of administration, paying Inheritance Tax and debts, and realising assets.
Testate – dying leaving a valid Will.
Trust – a legal arrangement where a person (the Trustee) holds an asset for the benefit of another (the Beneficiary). Read more about Will Trusts.
Trust corporation – the Public Trustee or a corporation appointed by the court to act as a custodian trustee.
Trustee – the legal owner of trust property who holds it for the beneficiary.
Vested interest – having a current interest in an estate at the time of death of the testator/intestate.
Will – any valid written declaration of your intentions as to property, which you can dispose of after your death, which you require to be performed after your death.