A Gift that Lives on

The legal terms used in the process of making or updating a Will can be confusing. Here we explain the most common words and phrases that you may come across.


Any person or organisation to whom you wish to leave a legacy or bequest (gift) in your Will.


Any change or addition that you make to your Will. It must follow the same legal formalities as the original Will.

Contingent bequest

A gift in your Will which depends upon the occurrence of an event which may or may not happen. For example - a bequest to a charity which applies only if other beneficiaries named in the Will die before the testator (person who made the Will).


The property (as a fund) donated to an institution or organization that is invested and producing income.


The total sum of your possessions, property and money (minus debts) left after your death.


Person(s) appointed by you to make sure the wishes in your Will are carried out.


The condition of dying without having made a Will.


A bequest or gift left in your Will. It can be in the form of money, property, stocks and shares or possessions.

Life interest

The right of a beneficiary to benefit from part or all of an estate for their lifetime.

Pecuniary bequest

A gift of a fixed sum of money in your Will.


The legal procedure after death which confirms your Will is valid and confirms the executors' authority to carry out your wishes.

Residuary bequest

A gift of the remainder of the estate after all other bequests have been made and debts cleared.

Specific bequest

A particular named item left as a gift in your Will - for example, a piece of jewellery.


A person who has made a Will.