Wills and Estates : Glossary of Important Words

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28 January 2019

Below are a list of common words and terms you may come across in relation to a Will and/or an Estate and what they mean.

A

Abatement

The process of determining the order in which the estate will abate to pay debts, liabilities, and expenses.

Ademption

When a person makes a declaration in their Will to leave a gift to another but revokes the gift before death either by destroying it, selling it or disposing of it in some other way.

Administration

Managing the affairs of the deceased. This involves establishing, collecting and distributing the assets of the estate as laid out in the Will or, where there is no Will, according to the intestacy rules that apply.

Administration period

The time taken from the date of death to the completion of the estate’s administration.

Administrator

The person who deals with distributing the estate in cases when there is no Will.

Apportionment

The proportionate division of income between certain beneficiaries.

Attorney

Someone appointed by another to act on their behalf.

Attestation

Witnessing a signature.

Asset

Property, money or belongings owned by the deceased.
B

Beneficiary

Anyone or thing that is entitled to a share of the estate of the deceased.

Bequest

Any gift left in a Will that is not land or buildings
C

Codicil

An addition or change made to a Will. It has to be signed and witnessed in the same way as a Will. A codicil may be needed, for example, to increase a cash bequest, change a guardian or executor named in a Will, or to add another beneficiary. Codicils should only be used to perform minor changes to the existing Will. If more complicated changes are needed it is advisable to make an entirely new Will.

Conveyancing

Conveyancing is the legal work that needs to take place when buying, selling and re-financing property.
D

Deceased

The person who has died.

Discretionary Trust

trust where the trustee has the full power to decide when and which certain beneficiaries are to receive their capital.

Donee

The person who receives the gift.

Donor

The person leaving the gift.
E

Estate

The property, money, and possessions of the deceased person.

Executor

The person appointed in a Will or codicil to administer an estate.
F

Fideicommissum

A legal institution, where the owner of a property transfers this property to another person, subject to it being transferred from that person to yet another person at a later stage.
G

Gift

Any bequest left in a Will.

Guardians

The people chosen by the testator to look after their children in the event of their death.
I

Immovable Property

Freehold or leasehold property.

Indemnity

An agreement to compensate someone for any loss suffered as a result of a failure to act by another.

Insolvency

When there is a shortfall of funds to meet all liabilities.

Interest

The right to property.

Intestate

When a person dies with no legally valid Will.

Intestate Succession

The name for the situation which arises when someone dies without having made a legally valid Will. Their estate is then distributed according to the laws governing intestate succession.

Issue

All the direct descendants of a person.
L

Last Will and Testament

A legal document that lays out the way a person wishes to have their estate distributed upon death. It can also contain their wishes for their burial/cremation.

Letters of Executorship

The legal document issued by the Master of the High Court, appointing an executor to deal with an estate.

Liability

The debts that need to be settled by the estate following the death of the deceased.

Liquidation and Distribution Account

Accounts of the financial transactions recorded during the Administration Period.

Living Will

Living Will usually covers specific directives as to the course of treatment that is to be taken by caregivers.
M

Matrimonial Home

The place where a husband and wife live.

Minor

A person under the age of 18.

Moveable Property

Any property that is not immovable e.g. personal chattels.
N

Next of Kin

The nearest blood relative of the deceased.

Notary Public

A legal officer appointed to deal with legal documents, principally for the conclusion of an ante-nuptial contract (in South Africa) but also for international purposes.
O

Oath

A pledge to tell the truth, verbally or in writing.
P

Post Mortem

 A medical examination of the body to determine the cause of death.

Power of Attorney

Authorisation to act on someone else’s behalf, usually in the form of a signed document.

Predeceased

 Someone who dies before the person who has made the Will.

Pro Rata

 Proportionately.
R

Realisation

Converting estate assets into cash.

Registrar

The person who registers the death. Every death must be registered by Department of Home Affairs.

Residuary Beneficiary

Any person entitled to receive the whole or a share of any residue of the estate, under the terms of the Will or on intestacy.

Residuary Estate

What is left of the estate after all liabilities and expenses have been paid.

Residue

What’s left after the money legacies, specific gifts, funeral expenses, and all other expenses.

Revocation

When the testator decides to change their Will completely and invalidates the previous one.
S

Satisfaction

Settling a debt or obligation.

Settlor

A person who has set up a trust.

Specific Bequest

Specific gifts left to specific people.
T

Testament

Another name for a Will.

Testate

 Dying leaving a Will.

Testator

The person who sets out his wishes and requests as to how their estate should be divided in the form of a Will.

Testatrix

A female testator.

Trust

An arrangement set up by Will or deed with Trustees being appointed and given money or assets to hold and manage for the defined beneficiaries.

Trustee

Someone who is given the legal responsibility to holds any assets until nominated beneficiaries meet certain criteria set out in the deceased’s Will e.g. until a beneficiary reaches the age of 18. Trustees normally have powers to distribute monies and have full power to sell and invest.
U

Usufruct

The right to use and enjoy the profits and advantages of something belonging to someone else, as long as the property is not altered in any way.  In the case of a Last Will and Testament, an asset that is bequeathed to one person but the user is given to someone else, usually for the remained of that person’s life (i.e. a husband might leave a house to his children but the use of the house to his wife until she dies).
W

Will

A form of instructions indicating how someone wishes to dispose of their assets on death.

Witnesses

The persons who must be present to see the testator sign the Will. They must also sign the Will themselves and should not be beneficiaries of the Will.

 

Article via: GCM Legal

DISCLAIMER: THIS INFORMATION DOES NOT CONSTITUTE LEGAL ADVICE.  IT IS ALWAYS ADVISABLE TO DISCUSS YOUR SITUATION WITH AN ATTORNEY OR PROFESSIONAL.

LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT


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