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Explanation of legal terms

A Will is a legal document which will contain legal terms. A solicitor or Will-writing professional can explain any of these words, but we've defined some of the common terms below:

Word
Definition
Beneficiary
A person or charity that benefits from your Will.
Bequest A gift made in your Will to individuals and/or charities.
Codicil
A legal document you can use to change your existing Will. You can also choose to have your Will updated.
Conditional gift bequest Where you leave a gift to family and friends, but if they fail to survive you by a stated period of time (usually 28 days) you can request that this gift is then paid to a charity, such as Arthritis Research UK.
Estate
The total sum of your possessions, property and savings, less any outstanding debts and liabilities.
Executor/executrix
The person or organisation (such as solicitor) named in a will to carry out the wishes of the deceased.
Intestacy The legal situation that arises if you die without leaving a valid Will.
Legatee A person or charity who receives a gift in your Will.
Life interest
Where an asset (such as property or income from investments) is left to one or more people for the benefit during their lifetime, with the asset/investment then going to a charity after their death.
Pecuniary gift or bequest
A gift of a fixed sum of money, which can be large or small. One way to prevent a pecuniary gift diminishing in value is to index-link it, so that it retains its value over time and in line with inflation.
Probate
The legal document obtained after death that confirms the Will is valid and gives authority to executor(s).
Residuary gift or bequest
A gift made up of what is left of your estate, after all debts, funeral costs, inheritance tax (if payable) and gifts to friends and family have been made. With a residuary bequest you can take care of loved ones first and leave all or part of what is left over to charity.
Reversionary gift or bequest
A gift to a person or charity due to be paid after a life interest.
Specific gift or bequest
A gift of a particular item in your Will, such as a piece of jewellery, furniture of painting.

If you need any further help, you can contact our legacy officer Theresa Stanworth on legacies@arthritisresearchuk.org or 0300 790 0404.

For more information, go to www.arthritisresearchuk.org.
Arthritis Research UK fund research into the cause, treatment and cure of arthritis. You can support Arthritis Research UK by volunteering, donating or visiting our shops.