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Glossary of Terms for Wills
When making a Will you are likely to come across some common legal phrases and terms. Knowledge of these terms and phrases will go a long way in making the Will-preparation process simple and fast. Here is a look at some of these terms.
Ademption of a gift: Failure of a Will’s gift due to non-existence of the gift.
Administrator: A person, often a family member, who sorts out your affairs if you die without a will.
Adult child: A child who is above 18 years.
Alteration of a Will: Changing some provisions of a Will. Such an act invalidates the Will unless it is done using a codicil.
Attestation clause: Clause where the Will-maker puts their signature.
Beneficiary: A person/organization who benefits under a Will.
Bequest: A gift (not money) to a person or an organization in a Will. It is often used interchangeably with legacy but the latter is strictly monetary.
Chattels: Personal property of the deceased. Furniture, clothes etc. are personal chattels while fixtures and buildings are real chattels.
Codicil: Legal document used by a person to amend their Will.
Estate: Everything owned by a person at the time of their death.
Executor: A person appointed by the maker of the Will with the task of ensuring that the terms of the Will are carried out.
Incorporation by reference: Incorporation of additional documents in a Will. They are usually documents with written instructions for the Will.
Intestate: Dying without having a Will in place or leaving a Will that is invalid. In such case it is the Law of Intestacy of 1925, rather than the wishes of the deceased, that is used to divide the estate of the deceased.
Joint Will: A single Will representing the wishes of two or more people. It usually written by spouses.
Inheritance tax: A tax charged on the deceased person’s estate.
Probate: The legal process of confirming that a Will is valid so that the executor can start dealing with the estate of the deceased according to the terms of the Will.
Residue: The estate of the deceased minus their debts, expenses and bequests.
Spouse: A wife or husband that is legally married.
Testate: To die with a Will in place.
Testamentary capacity: Capacity of a person to make a Will that will be deemed valid. For instance, somebody with no sound mind and memory lacks testamentary capacity.
Undue influence: Coercive influence placed on the maker of a Will that usually invalidates a Will.
Will: A legal document detailing the wishes of person on how their estate should be managed and distributed after they die.
Will-maker: A person who prepares a Will. Also called a testator.
Witness: A person who is present when the Will-maker signs the Will.