Glossary

If you are considering donating to a charity in your will, it can be difficult trying to get your head  around all the legal jargon.  To help, we’ve provided definitions for some of the key terms below:

Assets

Assets are all the property, money and belongings that you own.

Beneficiary

Beneficiaries are those who are entitled to benefit from your will

Bequest

Bequest is another word for a legacy or a gift left in your will. 

Codicil

A codicil is a document that alters the terms of an existing will. Please click here to view or download our codicil form.

Estate

An estate is your net worth which is calculated by adding together your assets and subtracting any liabilities 

Executor

An executor is the person or people (joint-executors) appointed by you in your will to administer your estate in accordance with the terms of your will. This involves dealing with paperwork, debts, taxes, funeral arrangements and distributing the money or property to your beneficiaries.

Inheritance Tax

Inheritance tax is the tax which may be payable if your estate exceeds the nil-rate band (see below). The inheritance tax rate is reduced if more than 10% of your estate if left to charity. Please visit gov.uk for more information.

Intestate

Intestacy or dying intestate is when you pass away without having made a will or where your will does not dispose of the whole of your estate.

Liabilities

Liabilities are obligations (such as debts) which may need to be settled after your death.

Legacy

A legacy is a gift of money or property which is left to someone in your will.

Mirror Will

Mirror wills are two separate, but identical wills which are created on behalf of couples (married, civil partners or unmarried).  They may be revoked by either party at any time.

National Free Wills Network

The National Free Wills Network is a service that allows Cats Protection to offer a free will-writing service to supporters. For more information, please see the Free will-writing service page.

Pecuniary

A pecuniary legacy is a gift of a specified sum of money.

Probate

Probate is a legal document which validates your will and authorises the executor to administer the estate in accordance with the terms of the will.

Residue

The residue is what is left in the estate after all the liabilities, tax, costs and other legacies have been paid.

Specific

A specific legacy is a particular item or sum of money that you wish to leave to someone in your will.

Trustee

A trustee is legally responsible for the assets held in a trust and distributing the assets according to the terms of the trust.

Testator

A testator is the person who has made the will.

Will

A will is a legal document by which the testator states what they want to happen to their estate after they die.


If you have any questions about leaving a gift in your will, please see our Gifts in Wills FAQs page, or contact our Gifts in Wills team who will be happy to help.

Cats Protection always recommends seeking legal advice; please contact your solicitor for further legal matters regarding your will.

Useful links

Gov.uk
Remember a Charity
Citizens Advice
The Law Society