Bereavement jargon buster

Updated on 10 September 2020


Below we set out some of the words and phrases commonly used in connection with bereavement and our explanation of what each term means


A person appointed by court to gather in and later pay out an estate when a person has died intestate (or none of the executors are able to take up office, for example).

Administration period

The period between date of death and the time when the assets in the estate are able to be distributed to beneficiaries.


A person who is entitled to something from the estate of the deceased person.


An amendment to a Will, often short, made in writing, but normally made to avoid rewriting the whole Will.


The Scottish equivalent of the probate procedure.

Death Notification Service

A service offered to executors to allow them to notify a death to several banks and financial institutions at the same time.


The total assets of the deceased after taking into account any debts they may have owed at date of death.


The people appointed by the Will (or by court) to administer the estate.

Inheritance tax (IHT)

A tax payable based on the value of someone’s estate when they die – and sometimes payable during lifetime if a gift is made to a trust. You can read about it on the page What reliefs and exemptions are there from inheritance tax?


A person who has died without making a valid Will.

Period of administration

The period between the deceased’s death and the time the estate is able to be distributed to beneficiaries.

Personal representatives

The executor(s) or administrator(s) of the estate.


The procedure of a court validating the Will as the last wishes of the deceased, confirming the assets in the estate that are to be dealt with, and confirming the appointment of the executor(s).

Tell us once

A system administered by Registrars (of Births, Marriages and Deaths) in many areas that enables them to communicate the death to various government and local government departments.

Testamentary writings

Another name for a Will.


A legal document that sets out how the deceased wanted their estate to be distributed as well as their wishes on their funeral, perhaps.


Getting help with bereavement and inheritance tax

Tax guides

Bereavement: further information
What taxes need to be dealt with when someone dies?

What happens to pension policies and life assurance policies the deceased held at death?

How does the personal representative deal with the income tax and capital gains tax affairs of the deceased?

What about income I received from the estate of a deceased person?

How does the personal representative deal with income and capital gains arising after the deceased’s death?

What reliefs and exemptions are there from inheritance tax?

Death of a spouse or civil partner

What is the effect of death on state benefits and credits?

What happens to property owned jointly by the deceased and someone else?

Getting help with bereavement and inheritance tax

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