The A-Z of Wills and Estate Legal Terms

06 October 2017

Dealing with Wills and Estate Planning can seem a little overwhelming at times, but even more so when trying to understand a bunch of legal terms.


Here’s our guide to help you make sense of the most common terms.


  • Administration of an estate – the process of an executor or administrator carries out to meet the terms of a Will
  • Advance Health Directive – In Queensland, an advance health directive (AHD) (or living Will) is a formal way to give instructions about your future health care. It comes into effect only if your cognitive health deteriorates and you become unable to make your own decisions.
  • Beneficiary – an individual or organisation benefiting under a Will.
  • Bequest – gift of an identifiable asset – that is not money – to an individual or organisation as outlined in a Will.
  • Binding Death Benefit Nomination – a written direction to the Trustee of your superannuation fund that sets out who you want to receive your benefit in the event of your death.
  • Child – in estate law this includes an adopted child or step-child.
  • Codicil – a legal change or addition to an existing Will.
  • Contingent bequest – a bequest which is only made if a specified event occurs.
  • Digital asset management plan – documentation outlining your digital assets such as online and social media accounts, devices you have, password information and how to locate and access them in a timely manner.
  • Estate – the combined total of all property a deceased person owned or had an interest in at the time of their death.
  • Estate plan – legal documents that provide instruction for distributing your estate, they also outlines directives for handling your finances and medical care if you no longer have the capacity to do so
  • Executor – the person appointed in a person’s Will to administer their estate and carry out their directions as set out in their Will. The Executor can be an individual person or a trustee company.
  • Grant – a Supreme Court document that recognises someone’s authority to deal with the estate of a person who has passed away. This may include A grant of probate; A grant of letters of administration of the Will; or Grant of letters of administration on intestacy.
  • Intestate – when a person dies without leaving a Will. In this case an estate is distributed according to a pre-determined formula with certain family members receiving a defined percentage of your assets despite what the deceased may have wished.
  • Legacy – a gift of money to an individual or organisation in a Will.
  • Life interest – a lifetime gift, such as giving someone the right to live in a property until that person’s death.
  • Power of Attorney – a document used by a person or company to appoint another person or company to make legally binding decisions on their behalf. There are two types of power of attorney: General Power of Attorney and Enduring Power of Attorney. A General Power of Attorney ceases to have effect after you lose the mental capacity to make financial decisions, whereas an Enduring Power of Attorney will continue to have effect regardless of your mental capacity.
  • Probate – the Supreme Court of Queensland’s official recognition of a Will as legally valid.
  • Residuary legacy – remainder of an estate left as a legacy after bequests and specific legacies have been distributed and all debts cleared
  • Residue of estate – possessions, property and money remaining after all debts are settled and all gifts are distributed in accordance with the Will
  • Spouse – a legally married husband or wife.
  • Testamentary Trust – a Trust established under a Will but it does not come into effect until after the death of the person making the Will. A Trust provides a structure for a person (or persons), that is a Trustee, to manage your assets for the benefit of others (the beneficiary or beneficiaries).
  • Wills a legal document that states how you would like your assets to be distributed when you die.

What next?

If you need help with a Will or Estate Planning contact Gill & Lane Solicitors at Sandgate via, or 3269 8111 for a free, no obligation consultation.