Estate Glossary

Administrator/s: The person or people who administer an estate. If the Willnames executors, they will do this. If not, the court can appoint administrator/s(see Letters of Administration).

Advisory trustee: Usually appointed to provide advice to the executors andtrustees. An advisory trustee is not a legal trustee, but the trustees may rely onthis advice.

Affidavit: A sworn statement that is to be filed in court. The person making theaffidavit must swear on the Bible, or another holy book. If you prefer, you cansign an affirmation which means you don’t have to swear on the Bible. Whenapplying for probate or Letters of Administration, the executor or administratormust complete an affidavit (or affirmation) to say they will administer the estatein accordance with the law. An affidavit, or affirmation, must be witnessed bya lawyer, Justice of the Peace or court official.

Beneficiary: A person or organisation that receives a distribution or benefitsfrom an estate.

Bequest: A gift in a Will (usually, but not always, a gift of a specific itemor items).

Distribution: Payment or transfer of assets from an estate to a beneficiary.

Estate: Everything you own at your death which is able to be disposed ofby your Will. Jointly owned assets usually pass automatically to the otherjoint owner on your death and don’t form part of your estate. (In law, theword ‘estate’ can have different meanings depending on the context, but thisdefinition indicates what is meant when we talk about the estate of a deceasedperson).

Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA): Under an EPA another person isappointed to act on your behalf. This power can apply to your personalproperty, and/or your personal care and welfare. A property EPA can eitherbe effective immediately it is signed, or only if you lose mental competence(the choice is yours). Your EPA is not effective after you have died.

Executor/s: The person or people named in the Will who are to carry out itsrequirements. Usually a Will appoints executors and trustees – trustee dutiesoften arise as part of the executor’s role and the Will should combine thetwo roles.

Guardian: A person, or people, who are responsible for decisions about achild’s upbringing and welfare. It’s not the same thing as ‘day-to-day care’.Guardianship ends at the age of 18. You can name a guardian for yourchildren in your Will – that’s called a ‘testamentary guardian’.

Grant of administration: A court order giving the executor/s oradministrators authority to administer the estate. The most common form ofgrant of administration is probate. Where there is no Will, the grant ofadministration is called ‘Letters of Administration’ If there is a Will, but noexecutor, then the grant is called ‘Letters of Administration with Will annexed’,see definitions below.

Indemnity: A promise that, if someone does what you’ve asked them to do andthey suffer financial loss as a result, you will make good all the loss. A commonexample is where estate beneficiaries would like the estate distributed as soonas possible, but there is a risk to the executors that someone may bring a claim. The executors may be prepared to distribute some of the estate earlier than the usual period of around six months if they are given an indemnity signed by the beneficiaries.

Intestate: If someone dies without leaving a valid Will, he or she is said to ‘dieintestate’. Administration of an intestate estate is called an ‘intestacy’ and thebeneficiaries are the people described in the table.

Legacy: A gift in a Will (often, but not always, a gift of money).Letter of wishes: A written summary of goals and objectives for your executorsand trustees. It can also be known as a ‘Note for Guidance for Trustees’ or a‘Memorandum of Wishes’.

Letters of Administration: An order of the High Court appointing anadministrator to administer the estate. Letters of Administration are requiredif someone has died intestate (without a Will). If the deceased left a Willbut the named executor/s cannot or will not administer the estate, the HighCourt can appoint an administrator or administrators and grant them Letters ofAdministration with Will annexed.

Letters of Administration with Will annexed: Letters of Administration withWill annexed are needed in some situations. Examples are where a person diesleaving a valid Will, but the Will doesn’t specify an executor; or the executorhas died; or for some reason can’t or won’t apply for probate.

Life interest: Where money or assets are held on trust for one person’s benefituntil he or she dies and then the money or assets are distributed to anotherperson or people. For example, a house property might be held on trust so thatA can live in it or receive the rent from it and, when A dies, the property is to betransferred to B and C. Alternatively shares or other investments could be heldon trust, and the dividends or interest payable to A during his or her lifetime.

Power of Attorney: A document which names a person or people who maysign documents or make decisions on your behalf. A simple power of attorneyis cancelled if you are no longer mentally competent but an Enduring Power ofAttorney (EPA) remains in force even if you become mentally incapacitated.

Probate: An order of the High Court confirming the last valid Will. This alsoconfirms the executor’s right to administer the estate.

Property: Anything you can own. This doesn’t just mean land and buildings;it includes shares, bank accounts, household items and even intellectual property(patents and copyrights).

Resealing: If the estate includes assets in another Commonwealth country, theNew Zealand probate or letters of administration can simply be resealed by thecourt in that country and this gives authority to deal with those assets. A wholenew grant of probate is required in other countries such as the USA.

Testamentary: Anything relating to or covered by a Will. Your testamentaryintentions are what you intend to achieve by signing your Will. A testamentaryguardian is a guardian appointed by a Will. A testamentary trust is a trust setup by your Will.

Trustee: A person appointed to hold assets for the benefit of the beneficiaries.A trustee has legal control of the assets.

Will: A legal document that specifies how you want your personal assets to beadministered and distributed after your death.

Will-maker: The person who signs the Will. In the past lawyers used the terms‘testator’ (male) and ‘testatrix’ (female). The Wills Act 2007 uses the word ‘Willmaker’to cover both.