Legal Jargon: Has It Stopped You Making A Will?

Something that can often delay those wanting to make a Will is the legal terminology that is used throughout the meeting.

To give you an idea of what those terms mean, and also give you an idea of the information you will need, we have compiled a glossary of some of the keywords.


An Executor is someone that will look after your estate once you have passed away; they will administer your estate. This means that they will do all of the running around; closing bank accounts, selling property, paying debts etc.

This term is not to be confused with 'Attorney' as they are two separate roles.

An Executor deals with your affairs when you die, an Attorney manages your affairs whilst you are alive.

Common questions we get asked about Executors.

Can my Attorney and Executor be the same person? Yes. More often than not, if you wish for someone to manage your affairs whilst you are alive, then it is likely that you would wish for the same person to continue once you have passed away.

Can my Executor be a Beneficiary? Yes; we get asked this a lot and are unable to determine where this misconception has come from. In practical terms, a lot of people leave their estate to their spouse and their spouse is usually the Executor.


A Trustee is someone who looks after the money/assets during the administration period. So if you picture the Executor doing all of the running around, they then hand the money/assets to the Trustee whilst everything is being collected in.

If there are any minor Beneficiaries, and once the assets and debts have been finalised, the Trustees will continue to manage those monies in accordance with the terms of the Will for that beneficiary.

A common question we get asked about Trustees.

Can an Executor and Trustee be the same person? Yes, the Executor and Trustee can indeed be the same person. They essentially wear a different hat to complete each role.


A Guardian is someone who is appointed to look after the welfare of any minor children. We have recently released a post about the importance of Guardians, which can be found here.

A common question we get asked about Guardians.

Who do I choose as a Guardian? This is the most difficult question we get asked, simply because we cannot answer that for you. When helping client's make those decisions, we often suggest that you have a think about who would provide your children with the lifestyle and upbringing that is as close to what you would also want for them.


A Beneficiary is someone who will benefit from your estate. This could include a gift of an item and/or cash or it could be that they are a "Residuary Beneficiary".

This means that they will inherit your estate after the payment of taxes, debts and expenses. A Residuary Beneficiary may inherit 100% of your estate or they may share your estate with several Residuary Beneficiaries.

A common question we get asked about Beneficiaries.

I don't want my beneficiaries to inherit at 18, can I change this? Absolutely. You can choose any age that you feel is appropriate. Your Trustees will manage those monies until your beneficiary reaches the age stated in your Will.

However, without a Will. Your beneficiaries will inherit at 18 years and if they are older than 18 years once the administration is complete, they will inherit straight away.

It is important to note that a Will will give you the authority to decide who carries out the above-mentioned roles. Without a Will, the current legislation will determine this on your behalf and you will have no say in the matter if you have not prepared a Will.

If you have a question about any of the above roles, please get in touch.

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