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 Know your Trustees from your Executors? A guide to legal jargon you might come across
Wills, trusts & estates

Know your Trustees from your Executors? A guide to legal jargon you might come across



Legal language and terminology is not always obvious in its meaning. Modern legal professionals will try to use the most straightforward and understandable terms that they can, but there are still some words which it is necessary or helpful to use in everyday practice. Latin is avoided at all costs!

With this in mind, we thought it would be helpful to prepare a mini jargon-buster of terms that are often used in our work with individuals and families.

Legal terms

Testator – The person who has made a Will.

Executor – Person(s) appointed by a Will or appointed by the Sheriff Court, if there is no Will, to administer a deceased person’s estate.

Testate – When a person dies and has made a Will.

Intestate – When a person dies without having made a Will.

Legacy – A gift (financial or specific item) to a person or an organisation in a Will.

Life interest – Granting a right often under a Trust or Will to someone which lasts only for the lifetime of the beneficiary. This is sometimes referred to as a liferent.

Residue – The remaining assets of a deceased person’s estate after all debts, tax and legacies are paid.

Issue – The children of a deceased person (by bloodline – includes adopted children), grandchildren, great-grandchildren and so on.

Guardian – Person responsible for a deceased person’s children until they turn age 16.

Trust – When an appointed Trustee(s) holds and manages money and/or assets for the benefit of individuals and/or organisations set out as beneficiaries of the Trust in the Deed of Trust. This can be created in a Will or set up during a person’s lifetime.

Settlor – A person who creates a Trust.

Trustee – An individual or an organisation named in the Deed of Trust to take responsibility for and manage the Trust’s assets.

Deed of Trust – A written document constituting the Trust which sets out the who is/are the Settlor, Trustees, beneficiaries and the purposes of the Trust.

Attorney – Person(s) appointed by someone to act as either or both their financial and welfare attorney.

Confirmation – A document granted by the Sheriff Court confirming the validity of a Will and the right of the Executors to administer the deceased person’s estate eg sell property, close bank accounts, transfer assets to beneficiaries.

Get in touch – we’re here to help

Should you wish to discuss any of the things mentioned in this blog, please do not hesitate to contact the Private Client team at Harper Macleod using the form below or call one of our offices on:

Glasgow: 0141 227 9344                           Inverness & Highlands: 01463 795 035

Edinburgh: 0131 247 2500                         Shetland01595 695 583 

Elgin: 01343 542623

We have solicitors working from home across the country, ready to help in person or over the phone or on a zoom call.

We can provide the assistance you need to protect your assets and your loved ones. This will allow you to put your mind at ease, knowing everything is in hand.


Glasgow Edinburgh Inverness Elgin Thurso Shetland
Get in touch

Call us for free on 0330 912 0294 or complete our online form below for legal advice or to arrange a call back.

Speak to us today on 0330 159 5555

Get in touch


Get in touch

Call us for free on 0330 159 5555 or complete our online form below to submit your enquiry or arrange a call back.