Glossary of Terms

The language used in Wills is formal and can sometimes be difficult to understand. Below is an explanation of some of the terms used.

Beneficiary – A Person who benefits from a gift in your Will

Bequest/Legacy – A gift in your Will

Codicil – A ‘supplement’ making a change or addition to your existing Will

Estate – Total sum of all your possessions, property and money

Executor/Executrix – A person you ask to make sure the wishes expressed in your Will are carried out. Executors can also be beneficiaries.

Inheritance Tax – The tax levied on your estate if it is more than an amount specified by HM Revenue and Customs. A gift to charity is exempt from inheritance tax.

Pecuniary – A gift of a specified Sum of money

Residuary Legacy – A gift of what is left of your estate (or part of) after all debts, taxes, costs and other bequests. It can be a percentage, fraction or part of an estate.

Reversionary Legacy – A gift of a Will that reverts to another beneficiary (such as a wife, husband or child) when the original beneficiary dies.

Specific Legacy – A gift of a particular item in your Will e.g. a painting, antique, jewellery, etc.

Testator/Testatrix - the person making the Will

Witness – A person present at the signing/authorising of your Will. A witness cannot be a beneficiary. You need two witnesses, both present, when you sign a Will.