Does Will-related legal jargon leave you bewildered, baffled and bemused? We cut through the hocus-pocus with this plain English guide to some commonly used Estate planning terms.
Beneficiary: A person who benefits from the Will and who is eligible to receive money, property or other gifts from the Testator via the Will.
Bequest or Legacy: A specific gift left to someone in your Will. It could, for example, be a special item you want to give someone who’s not a Beneficiary in your Will, or a donation to a charity you want to support. See Including a charitable gift in your Will.
Codicil: If a minor change needs to be made, a Will can be updated by creating a Codicil, or a small “addition” to the Will. If the changes are more far reaching, a new Will might be necessary.
De Facto/Domestic Relationship: A relationship where two people are not married, but are living with one another as partners. These relationships are defined and recognised under the law of each state/territory, and include same-sex couples.
Estate: The collection of assets and property left to be distributed under a Will after all the debts and claims on the Estate have been settled.
Executor: A trusted person the Testator appoints in their Will to be responsible for carrying out the instructions of the Will. The Executor applies for Probate and makes sure the Estate is distributed in the way the Testator wanted.
Guardian: The person you appoint to be legally responsible and care for your underage children.
Gift: A specific asset or sum of money that you choose to leave to a person or organisation.
Intestacy: The situation where one has died without a valid Will.
Letters of Administration: A document provided by the court to confirm the appointment of an administrator. This is required in cases where a deceased estate has been left without a valid Will, where the Will has not appointed an executor, or where all the appointed executors are unable or unwilling to act in that capacity.
Minor: A child under the age of 18.
Physical capacity: To have physical capability to write a Will, you must:
Probate: A document provided by the court that confirms the Will is valid, authorising the person named in the Will as executor to administer the estate.
Residual Estate: Everything that is left over after all debts, funeral and testamentary expenses and gifts are provided for.
Spouse: A person who is legally married. It is also sometimes used to describe a de-facto partner, otherwise referred to as a 'domestic partner'.
Testamentary capacity: The mental capability to make a Will. In order to have testamentary capacity, you must:
Testator: The person who makes the Will.
Trustee: A person or organisation you hold property for another on trust.
Will (sometimes called Will and Testament): The legal document which describes how an individual’s money, assets and property are distributed after they die. It can contain other wishes the individual has about their funeral, their legacy and how they want to be remembered.