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Will

A will is a legally binding document that sets out your wishes and which details how your estate and belongings are to be distributed on your death. It is a positive expression of those people and causes that are close to your heart but it can also help to put in place the practical arrangements that need to be taken care of when the time comes.

Codicil

A codicil is a legally binding document which can be appended to your main will and which allows you to make minor changes, amendments or additions to an existing will. For making bigger changes or leaving more complicated or residuary gifts it is recommended that the whole will is updated.

Executor

The person or entity named in a will who has the responsibility of carrying out the terms of the will (that is, collecting the assets, paying the debts and distributing gifts to the beneficiaries)

Beneficiary

A person or charity that benefits from your will

Bequest

A legacy, ie a gift left in your will

Estate

The entirety of your possessions

Intestacy

Dying without making a legally valid will, ie no will at all or a will that is declared invalid because certain formalities are not complied with

Life interest legacy

A legacy that leaves an interest in property for the duration of someone’s life only whereupon death it passes to another beneficiary. Also known as a ‘reversionary legacy’ or an ‘interest in remainder’.

Conditional legacy

A gift that becomes payable when a certain condition is satisfied eg ‘if my spouse has predeceased me…’

Living will

A legal document which specifies your wishes regarding medical treatment and allows you to designate another person to make medical decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated.

Inheritance Tax

This tax is paid on the portion of your estate that is above the nil-rate threshold.

Residue

This is what is left of your estate after any outstanding debts, taxes, pecuniary and specific bequests have been distributed to beneficiaries.