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Glossary of legal terms

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A glossary of legal terms you might find useful when making your will.



Someone who is appointed by law to settle your affairs if you die with no will.



Anyone who receives something from a will.


Bequest (legacy)

A gift left in a Will. It can be:

  • Specific: a definite object or property
  • Pecuniary: a gift of a particular sum of money
  • Residuary: a gift of money or assets left when other legacies and expenses have been paid. It is normally expressed as a part or percentage of the residue of your estate.


An addition or amendment to an existing will.



The total value of everything you own at your death, less any outstanding commitments.



The person or people you choose to make your will happen. They can be a relative, a friend or your solicitor.



The people chosen by parents to look after their children in the event of their death.



The name for the situation which arises when someone dies without making a will.


Inheritance tax

A 40 per cent tax deducted from estates with a value of more than £325,000. Money left to your spouse or a charity is not taxed. If your spouse predeceased you and did not use up their full inheritance tax free allowance, this will be added to your own at the rate prevailing at your death.



The legal process to establish whether your will is valid. If not, an administrator is appointed.



The person making the will.



An arrangement you can make in your will to administer part of your assets after your death.


Request legacy booklet

Promise To Be There booklet

Find out more about how you can help the British Red Cross by leaving a gift in your will.

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