Estate Administration – A Guide to Common Terms

The language of estate administration can be confusing, and we have therefore created a glossary of the terms commonly used for you to refer to. We believe that law should be accessible to everyone and it is important to understand each step of the process you instruct a professional to complete for you.


An executor is the person named in a person’s Will who is entitled to collect in the assets of an estate, pay any outstanding tax or liabilities, make funeral arrangements and distribute assets under the terms of a person’s Will.


If a person dies without a Will, the law dictates who can deal with their estate and this person is called their “Administrator” (instead of their executor).

Personal Representative:

This is another way of referring to an executor or administrator.


This is the term used to collectively describe everything that a person owns in terms of their property, assets and possessions.


This term applies where a person has left a valid Will, and their executors are entitled to deal with their estate by making an application for a “Grant of Probate”. This is simply a Court sealed document which gives executors authority to act.

Without a Will, the document is called a “Grant of Letters of Administration”


This is the person who gives the instructions to write a Will.


A person is said to have died “intestate” if they die without making a legally valid Will.

Beneficiary or Beneficiaries:

This is the person or people who are named in a Will to benefit from the estate of the person who has passed away.

Swearing an Oath:

This refers to the Oath for Executors or Administrators, which is a legal document which must be sworn in front of a Solicitor or Commissioner for Oaths in order to apply for a Grant of Probate or Grant of Letters of Administration.

The blog postings on this site solely reflect the personal views of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views, positions, strategies or opinions of Sentry Legals Limited. All comments are made in good faith, and neither Sentry Legals Limited nor the author will accept liability for them. No advice is given in any posting. Please contact your adviser for more information or advice.

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