For as long as lawyers have existed, despairing clients have struggled to make sense of the all too often complicated legal language. At Jackson Lees, our team prides itself on breaking down complex legal jargon to help you know where you stand.

Mark Duckworth, Head of Wills, Trusts and Probate at Jackson Lees, has listed down a few common terms that are used when it comes to dealing with a Will after someone has passed away.

Administration period

The period between the date of death and the date on which the estate is wound up.


A person who is due to inherit when someone dies.

Deed of Variation

A legal document where a beneficiary re-directs their gift under a Will or intestacy to someone else, either in whole or in part.

Estate Accounts

Accounts recording the value of all the assets at the date of death, any receipts and payments during the administration period and showing how the estate has been distributed.

Grant of Probate/Letters of Administration

The legal document that is sealed by the court to provide the Personal Representative with the authority to deal with the assets in the estate, such as selling property and closing bank accounts.

Inheritance tax (or IHT)

A tax payable on death on monies or assets passing to beneficiaries. Every person in the UK can currently pass up to £325,000 free of tax on their death (subject to certain rules about lifetime gifts), this is called the Nil Rate Band (NRB).

Anything above this can potentially be subject to tax at 40%. Some beneficiaries, such as spouses, civil partners and charities, are exempt from inheritance tax.

Unused NRB can be transferred between spouses or civil partners, meaning that there could be a total combined allowance of up to £650,000 on the second death.


If a person dies without making a Will, the intestacy rules will decide who gets what.

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A legacy is a gift of money, personal possessions or other assets by Will. The person receiving a legacy is referred to as a legatee.

Personal Representative or PR

An executor (where there is a Will) or administrator (where there is not) is the person entitled to take out a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration. Their duties include finding out the assets of the estate, collecting in the assets, settling any debts, expenses and tax and distributing the estate to the beneficiaries.


The term describing the process of dealing with the property, money, and possessions of the person who has passed away.

Residuary Estate

Usually this is the bulk of the estate i.e. what remains after payment of all debts, legacies, taxes and expenses.

Residence Nil Rate Band

A new, additional Inheritance Tax allowance in addition to the NRB, linked to the main residence/home. This allowance is only available in certain circumstances and a number of conditions must be met in order to benefit from this additional relief.

Here at Jackson Lees we pride ourselves on cutting out the jargon and helping you know where you stand with legal processes.

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