Glossary

Need to brush up on your legal terminology? Here we have created a full glossary of the legal terms you’re likely to come across during the process of working with us.

A

Administration of the estate

The process of gathering information relating to the assets and debts of the person who has died, handling all outstanding debts and distributing whatever assets remain as per the Will or Intestacy Rules.

Administrator

A Personal Representative not appointed in a Will.

Applicant

The person making the application to the Court of Protection for appointment of a Deputy and/or for a specific decision.

Attorney

The person who is being given power to make decisions and act on behalf of the Donor.

B

Beneficiary

Someone who is, or is going to, benefit from your estate when you die. The person or people who you have left gifts, money or your whole estate to in your Will. This can also be a person who is entitled to receive property, money or other assets from the Trust. Can be the same person as a Trustee.

C

Capacity

The ability to understand and weigh up all the required information to make a specific decision, and then make the decision for themselves. In England and Wales, capacity is governed by the Mental Capacity Act 2005.

Chattels

Personal possessions. Everything physical that you own which is not land or a building. Includes clothing, technology, jewellery, pets and vehicles.

Claimant

The person making the claim, or asking the Court to make a decision.

Codicil

An official alteration to a Will.

Counsel

Another word for a Barrister. A different type of lawyer, who works with your solicitor, provides formal advice and speaks on your behalf in Court.

Court of Protection

An office of the High Court that has the power to make decisions about the property, financial affairs, healthcare and general welfare of individuals who don’t have the mental capacity to do so themselves, usually by appointing a Deputy on their behalf. The court is also able to decide whether or not an elderly individual still has the capacity to make their own decisions.

D

Defendant

The person against who the claim is being made, or who is asking the Court to make a different decision.

Deputy

A person appointed by the Court of Protection to make decisions and act on behalf of someone who no longer has the capacity to make decisions for themselves.

Donor

The person making the Power of Attorney.

E

Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA)

Enduring Power of Attorney. The old form of Power of Attorney, which are still valid if made before October 2007 and can still be registered and used.

Estate

Everything that belongs to a person (including money in bank accounts, property and personal belongings) along with all their debts.

Executor

A personal representative who has been appointed in a Will to deal with the administration of the estate.

F

File

The formal process of sending your claim to the Court for them to deal with.

G

Give, devise and bequeath

A formal way of saying you give something to someone in its entirety with no restrictions.

Grant of Representation

A collective term used to refer to both Grants of Probate (in cases where there is a Will) and Grants of Administration (in cases where there isn’t a Will).

Guardian

A person or people who have been appointed by the Court to look after a missing person’s property and finances whilst they are missing.

I

Inheritance Tax (IHT)

The tax payable on your estate if your estate is worth more than the Nil Rate Band when you die.

Intestacy Rules

The law that governs how a person’s estate is administered when there is no Will.

Intestate

When a person dies without leaving a valid Will.

Issue (Wills)

Children, grandchildren etc. Anyone who is descended from you.

Issue (Contested Probate)

The Court’s formal acceptance of a claim, when they stamp it with their official stamp and send it to the people involved in the claim.

L

Legatee

Another word for beneficiary.

Life Sustaining Treatment

Any treatment which will keep you alive, when without it you might die. Anything from a course of antibiotics to being fed by a tube, or kept on a ventilator.

Life Tenant

Someone who is the beneficiary of the use or income of an asset, but only whilst they are alive. They never own the asset and can’t sell it, give it away or leave it to someone in their own Will.

Limitation

The last date by which you are allowed to file a claim with the Court. Set by various Acts of Parliament and different depending on the facts of your claim.

Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)

The new form of Power of Attorney, since October 2007.

M

Mental Capacity Act 2005

The Mental Capacity Act 2005 applies to anyone in England or Wales who is involved in the care, treatment or support of an individual who is unable to make some or all decisions for themselves. This will apply to you if you are an Attorney under a relative’s Lasting Power of Attorney. In this case you will have to agree to abide by the principles of the Mental Capacity Act.

Missing Person

Someone who has been gone from their usual place of residence for more than 90 days.

N

Nil Rate Band

The amount of money, set by the Government, which you can pass to your chosen beneficiaries without paying any Inheritance Tax.

O

Oath

The formal document that sets out why a specific person is entitled to deal with someone’s estate, and the figures that are in the estate.

Office of the Public Guardian (the OPG)

The government-run body who checks, registers and monitors EPAs and LPAs. They are part of the team – together with the Court of Protection – who protect people in England and Wales that don’t have the mental capacity to make decisions for themselves.

P

Parties

Every person or organisation that is involved in a claim. You will be one of the parties, your opponent will be another.

Patient

The person about whom the Court of Protection is being asked to make a decision.

People to be Served / Notified

There is a strict list of people who must be served with and/or notified of any application you make to the Court of Protection.

Personal Representative

The person or people who will deal with the legal formalities of your estate. They will find out about your assets and liabilities, make sure any taxes are paid, and divide up your estate as set out in your Will.

Potential Beneficiary

Someone who is named in the Trust, or falls into a particular category of person (e.g. “grand-children”) named in the Trust, and may receive something from the Trust but is not guaranteed or entitled to anything.

Power of Attorney

A legal document that allows you to appoint someone else (or a group of people) to make decisions on your behalf.

Power Reserved

When one or more Personal Representatives do not want to act at the moment, but wants the option to act in future.

Presumption of Death

A declaration by the Court, that a person is more likely than not to have died. Given by the Court when someone has been missing for a long time, or there is strong evidence they have died.

Probate

A legal document issued by the Probate Registry confirming that the Executors have the authority to deal with a person’s estate.

Proceedings

All the paperwork and procedure that applies to any claim once it is in the hands of the Court.

R

Registration

Sending the LPA or EPA to the Office of the Public Guardian for them to add to their register. The register is public, and anyone can ask for information from the register.

Renounce Probate

A person formally giving up all rights to apply for a Grant of Representation and/or act as a Personal Representative of an estate.

Revoke

Cancel and/or replace one or more existing Wills.

S

Serve

The formal procedure of sending documents to another person or party involved in the application. Strict timescales can apply to dates when certain things must be served by.

Swear

The process of formally signing the Oath. You can either swear on the Bible or another holy book of your choice, or affirm if you prefer.

T

Testator

The person making a Will.

The Care Act 2014

This act replaced much of the existing legislation on adult social care. It covers a wide range of things that affect elderly people, their families and carers. This includes the role of local authorities, how care needs are assessed, standards of care, and the safeguarding of elderly and vulnerable people.

The Office of the Public Guardian

An executive agency sponsored by the Ministry of Justice that protects people in England and Wales who don’t have the mental capacity to make decisions for themselves.

Trust Property / Trust Fund

The property – including land, buildings, money and any other assets – that is in the Trust.

Trustee

The person or people who will look after any money that is in trust for someone else. This includes when a beneficiary is under 18, as well as specific trusts that you have set up in your Will.

Trustees

The person or people who will look after the Trust property for you and make sure that the terms of the Trust are followed properly. They will also make any decisions about giving money or other property from the Trust to the beneficiaries or potential beneficiaries.

Unsure on legal terminology?

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