Administration: The management and distribution of the estate of the deceased; The authority to do so, granted by a court. Where no will had been made or a will was deemed to be invalid, Letters of Administration were issued by the court, appointing one or more people (usually next-of-kin) to administer the deceased's estate

Admõn: Abbreviation of ‘Administration’

Admõrs: Abbreviation of 'Administrators'

Anno Domini: Latin for 'Year of the Lord' - often abbreviated to ADAnno Domi

Anno Salutis: Latin for 'Year of the salvation' - a dating style used up until the eighteenth century which, like Anno Domini, dates years from the birth of Jesus.

Annuity: An annual income or payment of a fixed amount from an investment of capital which is, usually, not repayable

Appoint: To specify

Appurtenance: A right belonging to a property (eg the right to fish in the river at the bottom of the garden or to draw water from a well)

Appurts: Abbreviation of Appurtenances

Arrearages: Payments (or the amount of payments) in arrears

Beneficiary: Anyone who receives a gift from a will.

Bequeath: To leave property in a will (strictly, personal estate) - see Devise

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.

Borough English: An ancient Anglo-Saxon custom by which the youngest son inherited the land

Chattels: Property other than freehold. Distinguished into chattels - real (leasehold interests) and chattels - personal (personal movables eg plate, china, cattle)

Child: In will or intestacy matters, includes the adopted and illegitimate children of the person who has died, but not their stepchildren - unless they are specifically mentioned. Legacies are often left in trust for children until they are 18 or 21 or 25, rather than the legal limit of 16.

Civil Partners: Registered civil partners have the same legal rights as a spouse should their partner die intestate after December 2005.

Codicil: A supplement to a will, usually defining additional bequests or making small changes.

Commissary: A deputy; An officer representing a bishop

Commission: Delegation of authority; the act of issuing letters of administration.

Common-law spouse: A common-law spouse has no automatic legal rights to be an executor or beneficiary in English law, although a dependent partner who lived with the person who died for two years before their death may be able to claim a share of the estate.

Comõn: Abbreviation of ‘Commission’

Copyhold: Property and/or land held, subject to the custom of a manor. When transferring the property the tenant first surrendered it to the lord of the manor who held the fee simple, and then the new tenant was admitted on payment of a fine (see Leasehold, Freehold)

Covenant: A formal agreement under seal; To grant or promise by covenant

Coverture: The condition of a married woman as legally under the protection of her husband (until the Married Woman's Property Act of 1882, married women could not, by law, own property; before this they and their possessions were considered as possessions of the husband - fortunately we live in more enlightened times)

Curtilage: A court or area of land attached to and including a dwelling-house; Messuage

Deed: An instrument (usually a document) comprehending the terms of a contract and the evidence of its due execution

Devise: Property left in a will; or the act of leaving property in a will (strictly, real estate) - see Bequeath

Devisee: to whom property is left in a will (strictly, real estate)

Distrain: To seize goods for debt, especially non-payment of rent

Distress: Goods seized for debt, especially non-payment of rent

Dower: Property to be enjoyed by a widow after her husband's death (see Jointure, Thirds); Property that a woman brings to her husband in marriage (also Dowry)

Edifices: Buildings

Enceinte: Latin meaning 'with child'; pregnant

Estate: Property, especially a landed property (see Real estate, Personal estate); A person's assets and liabilities taken collectively

Estoppel: A bar preventing one from making an allegation or a denial that contradicts what one has previously stated as the truth.

Execution: Performance of what is required to give validity to any legal instrument, as by signing and sealing; The discharge of a duty

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.

Exõrs: Abbreviation of Executors

Expectancy: The position of being entitled to possession of any property at a future time by virtue of reversion, remainder or death

Fee: Inheritance of a freehold estate

Fee Simple: Absolute inheritance, immediate and without restrictions

Fee Tail: Inheritance of an entailed estate, which may descend only to a certain class of heirs e.g. eldest sons

Feoffment: Transfer of land from one person to another where the land is held subject to a fee or service

Fine: A sum of money paid on particular occasions e.g. on inheriting a copyhold property

Foregift: A premium paid by a tenant for the renewal of a lease(see Fine, Premium)

Freebench: A widow's right to dower out of her late husband's Copyhold lands (see Copyhold, Dower)

Freehold: A property and/or land held free of duty except to the monarch (see Leasehold, Copyhold)

Heir/Heiress: Person to whom property will come into possession upon the death of the current holder (heiress if female)

Hereditament: Any property that may be passed to an heir/heiress

Hereinafter: Later in this document

Hereinbefore: Earlier in this document

Heriot: Fine due to the Lord of the Manor (e.g. the best beast) upon the death of a tenant

Husslements: Minor household goods of little value

Imprimis: Latin for 'especially' - often used to introduce the commending of the soul to God or the first bequest

Impropriate: To place ecclesiastical (church) property in the hands of a layman; Description of property so devolved.

Impropriator: A layman who holds possession of the lands of the church or an ecclesiastical living.

Indenture: A written contract under seal (so called because the two documents had their edges cut or indented exactly alike so as to correspond with one another)

Inheritance Tax: A 40% tax payable on estates over a certain threshold, currently £285,000 in 2006-07. Gifts to churches and charities reduce the value of an estate for inheritance tax purposes.

Intestate: Having died without leaving a valid will

Inventory: A list and valuation of all the deceased's movable goods (usually room by room) - more common before the mid 18th century

Issue: All living descendants - children, grandchildren etc. Legally adopted children and grandchildren are included, unless the will expressly excludes them. Does not include step-children

Joint tenants: Two or more people who own a property together. The joint tenants do not own distinct shares in the property; if one of them dies, the others will continue to own the entire property. Only the last tenant to die can pass the property on in their will (see Tenants in Common)

Jointure: Property (land or tenements) settled on a woman at marriage to be enjoyed after her husband's death; Like Dower

Land: The ground, the buildings built on it, the subsoil below the ground, property fixed to the ground, and the airspace above the ground necessary for its ordinary use

Leasehold: Property and/or land held, subject to the terms of a contract, for a specified period of time (see Freehold, Copyhold)

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.

Lessee: One to whom a lease is granted (see Lease)

Lessor: One who grants a lease (see Lease)

Life interest: The right to receive the income or benefit from a property or capital sum (but not the capital sum itself) for life. See also under Legacy above.

Limit: To specify

Manor: The district over which the court of the Lord of the manor had authority

Messuage: Dwelling and offices (eg barns, sheds) together with the adjoining lands

Minor: A person under 18.

Moiety: One of two parts; Half

Mortgage: The grant of an estate or other immovable property in fee as security for the payment of money, to be voided on the discharge of the debt or loan

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

Nuncupative: Spoken; A will declared orally before witnesses rather than written, usually by a testator on his/her deathbed

Overplus: Surplus

Overseer: Person appointed to oversee the execution of a will - someone to give help and advice but with no legal powers

Pecuniary: See Legacy

Personal Estate: Property of the Testator, other than real estate

Personal representative: A general term for an administrator or executor.

Premium: A sum paid in addition to interest, wages etc. (see Fine, Foregift)

Presents: Writings

Primogeniture: The practice (introduced by the Normans) of conferring land on the eldest son without subdivision, thereby leaving an estate intact for centuries

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.

Probate Registry: A court within the Family Division of the High Court which deals with probate and administration matters. The Principal Registry is in London and there are district registries in other cities and some large towns. It checks the validity of all wills and registers them in a central database. See

Proving the will: Making the application for probate to the Probate Registry.

Purpresture: An illegal enclosure or encroachment (on public or common land)

Rack rent: Rent at the maximum obtainable annual value

Real Estate: Land and/or buildings; A person's interest in land and tenements

Relict: Another term for widow; A widow who has not remarried

Remainder: Interest in an estate to come into effect after a certain other event happens e.g. inheritance by heirs after the death of their widowed mother (similar to reversion)

Residue: The remainder of an estate after all legacies and bequests have been given and once all debts, taxes and expenses have been paid

Reversion: Future possession of any property after some particular event (similar to remainder)

Revoke: Annull, repeal or reverse; to legally cancel a will

Sentence: A judgement about a disputed will given at the conclusion of litigation

Several: Separate; distinct

Singular: Particular; specific

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

Stirpes: Family or generation; describes the way a bequest is to be divided among a person's issue. Most people want bequests to their children to be divided equally among the children. A per stirpes distribution does this, and it also governs what happens if any child has died. If a child has died, his (or her) share is divided among his issue if he has any issue. For example, presume that you have three children and that your will provides for a bequest to your children per stirpes. If all three children survive you, each would get one third of the property. If, however, one has died, his one third share would be divided among his children if he had any, or if he had no living issue his one third share would pass to his two siblings

Temporal estate: Possessions that one has during one's lifetime (also referred to as worldly estate)

Tenants in common: Two or more people who own a property together. Each has a distinct share and can pass it to someone on their death (see Joint Tenants)

Tenement: A dwelling or habitation (or part of) occupied by one family

Testament: Legal document disposing of a person's personal estate, usually combined with a Will; A writing or decree appointing an executor

Testator/Testatrix: Person making and leaving a will (testatrix if female)

The Crown: Where the money goes (your estate) if you have no next of kin and did not make a will - in reality it means HM Treasury.

Thirds: Ecclesiastical law provided that at least one-third of a man's personal property should go to his widow (as her dower) and one-third should pass to his children (see Dower, Jointure)

Trental: In the Roman Catholic Church, either an office and mass for the dead on the thirtieth day after death or burial or a series of thirty requiem masses (i.e. one a day for thirty days).

Trust: An arrangement, usually established by a written document, to provide for the management and disposition of assets. It normally involves three parties: the person who establishes the trust (sometimes called a donor, grantor or trustor), one or more trustees and one or more beneficiaries

Trustee: Person to whom the management of property is entrusted for the benefit of others

Vested: Present and absolute right; not conditional

Videlicet: Latin term meaning "namely"

Viz: Abbreviation of the latin videlicet meaning "namely" (also written 'Vizt')

Will: Legal document disposing of a person's real estate

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