Published on
03 Jan 2023
3 min read

Glossary of Legal Words When it comes to Wills

Feb 3, 2023

When you are creating a last Will and testament, you may encounter a variety of legal terms. Understanding common legal words can make it easier for you to work through the Will writing process.

Here are some key terms which you should know while making a Will:

  1. Testator: The Will maker is legally known as Testator. It simply means the person whose wishes and instructions are contained in a Will document, and who signs the Will. 
  1. Executor: An executor is a person mentioned in a Will who will carry out the instructions and wishes of the deceased person (the Testator). He is the one responsible for managing the Testator’s assets, paying debts and taxes, and distributing the assets to the beneficiaries according to the Will.     
  1. Beneficiary: A beneficiary is a person named in the Will by the Testator, who is entitled to receive assets from the Estate.
  1. Residue: The Residue is the left behind of the estate after clearing all the taxes, debts, Executor compensation, specific bequests, legal fees, accounting fees, and finishing all other obligations of the Estate.
  1. Guardian: A guardian in a Will is a person appointed by the Testator for taking care and raising the minor children of the testator after his demise, or in the event that both parents are deceased or unable to care for them. He is responsible for making decisions regarding the children's upbringing, education, and overall well-being. 
  1. Survivor: It denotes one or more beneficiaries who are still alive out of a group of beneficiaries. Let us understand this with an example, if the Will says: “The residue of my estate shall be distributed between Rohan, Mohan, and Sohan in equal shares, or the survivor(s) of them…”, it means that if Rohan and Mohan die, Sohan is the survivor and will be entitled to the entire residue of the Estate.
  1. Trustee: A trustee is a person who holds and takes care of the property on behalf of, and for the benefit of, the ultimate or beneficial owner. In Wills & Estates law, the Executor is known as a “trustee” of all Estate property from the time of death until all such property has been distributed unless the Will mentions otherwise. 
  1. Estate: Estate in the Wills refers to all assets of a deceased individual (Testator). It may include land and buildings, or any personal belongings, bank accounts, vehicles, investments, and anything else that the deceased person (Testator) owned during their lifetime.
  1. Descendants: Descendants refer to a person's direct lineal heirs, that includes their children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and so on. If a person died without a Will or if the Will did not specify how to distribute the assets and property, these are the people who would inherit the assets and property.
  1. Predeceased: In Wills, the term "predeceased" means "died before.
  1. Intestate: To die without a Will.
  1. Probate: The process of determining whether a Will is valid by a court.

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