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Explanation of legal terms

A pair of glasses resting on an open bookAdministration of the estate: The task carried out by the executors of a person who has died. It involves:

  • assembling all their assets
  • paying any debts and tax due
  • paying the legacies due to the people (beneficiaries) who your loved one remembered in their Will
  • securing all your loved one’s assets and ensuring, if necessary, that adequate insurance is in place to protect them until you have completed the administration of their estate.

Beneficiary: A person or organisation who is left money or goods in a Will.

Estate: Everything that belonged to a person who has died and all the person's debts.

Executor: A personal representative appointed in a Will.

Grant of probate: A document issued by the Probate Registry to the executors of a person who has died confirming that they have authority to deal with the person's estate.

Personal representatives: The people who have the legal authority to deal with the estate of a person who has died. They’re often, but not always, members of the person's family.

If there’s a Will, the personal representatives are named in the Will and called the executors.

Probate Registry: The government office that deals with probate matters and issues the grant of probate.

Specific beneficiary: a beneficiary who receives a specific possessions or an amount of money from the Will. It’s sometimes referred to as a pecuniary beneficiary (for a gift of money).

Registrar: A person responsible for keeping an official records of births, deaths and marriages.

Residuary beneficiary: a beneficiary who receives part or all of what’s left in the estate when all specific beneficiaries have received what the Will says they should.

Will: The document that sets out what a person wants to happen to their money and possessions when they die. It’s sometimes called the Last Will and Testament.

Tell us once service

A number of local councils offer the Department of Work and Pension's Tell us once service. This is a way of letting a number of government departments know that someone has died through just one point of contact.

Tell us once can be used to contact the government departments that deal with your loved one’s:

  • benefits
  • state pension
  • tax
  • passport
  • driving licence.

If Tell us once is available in your area, when registering your loved one’s death the registrar will either use the service for you or give you a unique service reference number so that you can use the service over the phone or online.

Need some help?

If we can support you in any way, please contact:

Catherine Whitehead, legacy administrator, on
or 01246 541 156
Anna Draper, legacy administration manager, on or 01246 541 113.

Back to Information for executors

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