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  • Writer's pictureWayne Barnett FCA | MIPW | STEP Affiliate

Terminology Used in a Will

Updated: Mar 15, 2023

The purpose of a Will is to convey, in clear terms, what is to happen to an individual’s estate (his assets) after his death. The discipline of using tried and tested set wordings and phrases (called Precedents) is an enormous benefit to clients and draughtsmen alike.


However, the utilisation of formal terminology can sometimes be very confusing for the lay person to understand and therefore this month I thought I would list and explain some of those phrases which commonly occur in a will.


We start, at the beginning, with the Testator:-


A Testator is a person who has written and executed a Last Will and Testament that is in effect at the time of their death. It is any "person who makes a will."


Last Will and Testament is a document that expresses a person's wishes as to how their property is to be distributed after their death and as to which person(s) is appointed as an executor and trustee.


An Executor is a person named in a will who sorts out the estate of the person who's died.


A Trustee is someone with legal control of money or property that is kept or invested for another person, company, or organization.


The Estate of an individual is the sum of all of their assets – legal rights, interests and entitlements to property of any kind – less all liabilities.


Testamentary Beneficiaries is a person or entity designated by another to receive a gift of money or property under a last will and testament.


Residual Beneficiaries are persons who receive any property from a will or trust that is not specifically left to another designated beneficiary.


A Discretionary Trust is a trust where the beneficiaries and/or their entitlements to the trust fund are not fixed, but are determined by the criteria set out in the trust instrument by the settlor.


A life interest trust included in a Will is a vehicle which allows you to balance the needs of your loved ones, helping you to ensure the financial security of your current spouse whilst still protecting your children’s inheritance for the future, whether that be against assets passing to other people if you die before your current spouse or against your family wealth being used up in paying for expensive care fees.


A settlor is a person who settles property under trust law for the benefit of beneficiaries. Where the trust is a testamentary trust, the settlor is usually referred to as the testator.


An attestation clause is a provision at the end of the will that is signed by the testator & witnesses and recites the formalities required to make the will effective.


For further assistance and guidance please contact Wayne Barnett FCA; MIPW; STEP Affiliate of Maplebrook Services Limited – info@maplebrookservices.com or 26 600780 / 99 147650.

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