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Glossary of terms

There are three types of legacy that you can leave in your will that offer different ways to support St Christopher’s:

  • Residuary legacy:  a gift of the remainder of your estate, or a percentage, after all other legacies and any debts cleared. Residuary legacies keep pace with inflation and are an effective way to divide the value of an estate between a number of people and causes
  • Pecuniary legacy:  a gift of a fixed sum of money.
  • Specific legacy:  a gift of a specific item, e.g. a property or item of jewellery

Other key terms

Beneficiary: Anyone who receives a gift from a will.

Bequest: In the UK it generally refers to a specific legacy of a particular object (eg a specified painting rather than £500). Overseas it describes any type of legacy.

Chattels: Personal belongings, including jewellery, furniture, wine, pictures, books and cars, but not money, investments, property or business assets.

Codicil: A further document making a change, or adding to, an existing will. It must comply with the same formalities as the will. It should be filed with the original will but not attached to it.

Estate: The total value of everything you own at your death – including all houses, cars, investments, money and belongings – less any outstanding debts or commitments.

Executor: The person(s) you choose to make your will happen. Usually you will have one or two (in England the maximum is four). Often this will be a younger relative or friend, and your solicitor or bank. Female form is Executrix.

Inheritance Tax: A 40% tax payable on estates over a certain threshold. Gifts to churches and charities reduce the value of an estate for inheritance tax purposes.

Issue: All the direct descendants of a person – children, grandchildren and so on.

Legacy: A gift in a will. It can be:

  • Specific legacy A definite object or property (eg a specific car, property or painting)
  • Pecuniary legacy A gift of a specific sum of money
  • Residual legacy A gift of (a share of) the money or assets left when other specific and pecuniary legacies and expenses have been paid – i.e. the remainder of the estate
  • Life interest For example, ‘to my wife for her use in her lifetime, then to charity’.
  • Reversionary interest What happens when the life interest expires.
  • Conditional interest A legacy which is dependent upon an event or specified criteria being met.

Minor: A person under 18.

Next of kin: In will or intestacy matters, the person entitled to the estate when someone dies intestate (without a will).

Personal estate (personalty): All the investments and belongings of a person apart from land and buildings.

Probate: The legal process to establish your will is valid. If it is, the Probate Registry will give a Grant of Probate to the executors to authorise them to carry out the terms of the will. If it is not valid or the person died intestate, an administrator is appointed.

Real estate (realty): Land and buildings owned by a person.

Residue: What is left to share out after all the debts, taxes, expenses, specific bequests and pecuniary legacies have been paid. See legacy.

Specific: Particular tangible items left as gifts in a will. See Legacy.

Testator: The person making the will. Female form is Testatrix.

Will: The document in which you say what will happen to your money and possessions after your death.

Witness: Two witnesses must see you sign your will and you must also watch both of them sign it. They must also watch each other sign the will. No beneficiary (or their spouse) should sign the Will; if they do, any gift to them or their spouse will be invalid and will fail.

Related leaflets

More information

Helen Wheeler Legacy Fundraiser, Fundraising

0208 768 4715