Bereavement glossary of terms

We've created a glossary to help you understand some of the terms that you may come across when dealing with the practical side of a loss.


Asset: Property, money or possessions that belonged to the deceased.


    Beneficiary: A person who inherits all or part of the money or property from someone who has died.


      Codicil: This a legal written amendment to an existing Will.

      Coroner's Certificate of the Fact of Death: When a death is reported to a coroner, an interim Death Certificate is issued by them before the official Death Certificate is registered and issued.


        Death certificate: The legal document issued by the registrar when a person dies. It is a copy of the entry in the death register.


          Estate: The total value of everything owner by a person when they died - money, property and possessions - after any debts they had have been settled.

          Executor: The person(s) named in a Will who are responsible for making sure that the wishes of the person who died are carried out.


            Grant of Probate/Confirmation (Scotland): An official document confirming the Will is valid and stating who the personal representative is. It can be used to show the personal representatives(s) has the right to access funds, sort out finances and collect and share out the deceased person's assets as set out in the Will.

            Grant of Representation: A document that provides proof that someone has Probate and is allowed to deal with a person's estate.


              Inheritance Tax: Tax that is paid from the estate of a person who has died and must be paid before the estate is shared out to the beneficiaries.

              Intestacy: When someone has died without having made a Will. A person who dies without having made a valid Will is known as having died 'intestate'.


                Letters of Administration: An official document stating who the personal representative is when a person has died without making a Will.


                  Next of Kin: The closest related family member(s) of a person who has died. This is normally their husband, wife, civil partner or their child/children.


                    Personal Representative: The person who is legally responsible for dealing with the estate.

                    Power of Attorney: Is a way of giving someone you trust legal authority to make decisions on your behalf. It should be noted that Power of Attorney ceases to be in effect when the persons dies.

                    Probate: The legal term for giving someone the authority to manage the estate of a person who has died. In Scotland, Probate is known as Confirmation.


                      Trustee: The person who holds assets on trust.


                        Will: A document which states what someone would like to happen to their assets when they die.