A will can be a very tricky and confusing document depending on who and when it was written. The terminology within wills has changed over time, becoming simpler and more user friendly, this has been achieved by will writers now writing wills in plain English. During this short article we will look at some of the common structures and language used by will writers.
Below we have assembled the common terms you would expect to find written in a will but not commonly used in today’s society.
Testator: The testator (male) or testatrix (female) is the person who is making the will and signing his or her name.
Estate: All of your worldly possessions.
Witness: A witness is an unconnected party that is not benefitting from the Will or related to anyone benefitting from the will. They are signing to confirm the testator has sign the will, not what is in the will.
Beneficiary: A beneficiary is someone who benefits through a will, a person who inherits part of your estate.
Bequest: A bequest is a provision in a will that leaves property to someone.
Issue: Issue is another word for your direct descendants such as children and grandchildren. Issue includes natural born children and grandchildren as well as those who are adopted into the family.
Executor/Personal Representative: The executor is the person you select who will be in charge of distributing your estate according to your will after you pass.
Trustee: The person who is legally responsible for looking after the testator’s estate before distribution to beneficiaries.
Probate: The legal process through which a court examines, approves, and enacts the terms of a will is known as probate.
Codicil: If you wish to make a change or addition to your will, you can add a codicil to it. This amendment keeps the original will in place but adds or changes some terms.
Guardian: If you have children under the age of eighteen you can name a guardian who will be legally responsible for their care.
Residuary Estate: After all your specific bequests/gifts are handled, whatever assets are left that you did not specifically leave to someone becomes part of your residuary estate.
Now you understand the common terms you would expect to find in a will why not reading our blog around a will's structure. Our will structure blog gives you the background around a will structure and the sections you would expect to find in a will from burial instructions to the residue estate.