There are many phrases and terms that are unique to deceased estates and estate law, and if you’ve never needed to organise probate before, you might not be quite aware of what they all mean. 

Here is a thorough list of estate law terms and their definitions.

  1. Executor: A person appointed in a will to manage the estate and carry out the deceased person's wishes.
  2. Administrator: A person appointed by the court to manage the estate when there is no valid will or appointed executor.
  3. Beneficiary: A person who is entitled to receive assets or benefits from the deceased person's estate.
  4. Dying Intestate: When a person dies without leaving a valid will, their estate is distributed according to the laws of intestacy.
  5. Will: A legal document that outlines how a person's assets and property should be distributed after their death.
  6. Testator: The person who makes a will.
  7. Codicil: A legal document that modifies or adds to an existing will.
  8. Probate: The legal process of proving and validating a will in court.
  9. Letters of Administration: A court document granted to an administrator when there is no valid will.
  10. Estate: The total sum of a person's assets, property, and liabilities at the time of their death.
  11. Residue: The remaining assets of an estate after all debts, taxes, and specific bequests have been paid.
  12. Intestacy Laws: Laws that determine how an estate is distributed when a person dies without a valid will.
  13. Power of Attorney: A legal document that grants someone the authority to act on behalf of another person in financial and legal matters.
  14. Guardianship: Legal responsibility for the care and well-being of a minor child or incapacitated adult.
  15. Trust: A legal arrangement where assets are held by one party (the trustee) for the benefit of another (the beneficiary).
  16. Testamentary Trust: A trust established through a will and comes into effect upon the death of the testator.
  17. Superannuation: A retirement savings scheme where funds are accumulated throughout a person's working life.
  18. Superannuation Death Benefit: A document that directs how a person's superannuation benefits should be distributed upon their death.
  19. Family Provision Claims: A claim made against an estate by an eligible person who believes they have not been adequately provided for in the will.
  20. Estate Planning: The process of arranging and organising a person's affairs to ensure the orderly distribution of their assets after death.
  21. Advance Health Directive: A legal document that outlines an individual's preferences and instructions for medical treatment and care if they become unable to make decisions for themselves.
  22. Enduring Power of Attorney: A legal document that grants someone the authority to make financial and legal decisions on behalf of another person, even if that person becomes mentally incapacitated.
  23. Testamentary Capacity: The legal and mental ability of a person to make a valid will.
  24. Life Interest: An arrangement in a will where a beneficiary has the right to use and enjoy a specific asset (such as a property) for their lifetime, but ownership eventually passes to another beneficiary.
  25. Inheritance Tax: A tax imposed on the assets or property inherited by a beneficiary from an estate. In Australia, there is no nationwide inheritance tax, but some states may have duties or taxes that apply.
  26. Life Insurance Trust: A trust created to hold life insurance policies, ensuring that the proceeds are distributed according to the wishes of the policyholder.
  27. Spousal Maintenance: Financial support provided by one spouse to another following the breakdown of a marriage or de facto relationship.
  28. Testamentary Guardian: A person appointed in a will to have legal authority and responsibility for the care and upbringing of a minor child after the death of their parents.
  29. Renunciation: The act of voluntarily giving up or refusing the right to act as an executor, administrator, or beneficiary.
  30. Letters of Administration with Will Annexed: A court document granted when there is a valid will but no appointed executor, and an administrator is appointed to carry out the terms of the will.
  31. Residuary Beneficiary: The person or entity named in a will to receive the remaining assets of the estate after specific bequests and expenses have been paid.
  32. Power to Sell: A provision in a will that grants the executor or trustee the authority to sell estate assets, such as property or investments, to satisfy debts or distribute the proceeds.
  33. Attestation Clause: A statement at the end of a will that confirms it has been signed and witnessed according to the legal requirements.
  34. Small Estate: An estate with a relatively low value, typically subject to simplified probate procedures or exemptions from certain requirements.
  35. Family Trust: A trust established for the benefit of family members, often used for asset protection, tax planning, and wealth management.
  36. Testate: When a person dies leaving a valid will.
  37. Capacity Assessment: An evaluation of an individual's mental and cognitive abilities to determine if they have the capacity to make decisions regarding their estate and personal affairs.

As always, it's essential to consult with a legal professional for specific advice and guidance regarding estate law in Australia.

If you need help with a loved one’s estate, our affiliate law firm, Bare Law, is here to help. Head to the link below to learn more or give the team a call on 1800 959 371.