Probate jargon explained

Probate involves a bunch of legal and financial terms. We dislike jargon as much as you do, so we avoid it if we can. Here are definitions for some of the common terms.

Probate jargon


A piece of paper which allows named people to deal with a dead person’s assets. Probate is issued by HM Courts Service.

Grant of representation

The catch-all term for the different types of grant, including grant of probate (if there’s a will) and grant of letters of administration (if there’s no will).


The person or organisation named in a will who’s responsible for dealing with the dead person’s stuff, or appointing someone to do it on their behalf. Often a close family member.


Administrators are responsible for dealing with a dead person’s stuff where there’s no will. They do the same thing as executors.

Inheritance tax (IHT)

The tax due on a dead person’s money and assets. ‘IHT’ is due after only around 5% of deaths, but even if there’s no tax, there’s still a detailed tax form to fill out to get the grant.

Estate administration

A dead person’s assets, debts, pensions and so on is their ‘estate’. Estate administration means sorting it all out from start to finish (a part of which is getting probate).


A person who will be receiving some of the deceased’s money or assets. They may be named in the will, or if there’s no will they may be receiving something because of intestacy.


If the person who died didn’t leave a will, they died ‘intestate’, and the rules of intestacy kick in. These are rules which say who the beneficiaries are.


A document which sets out the dead person’s wishes. Around 70% of people in the UK die having written a will.

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