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Writing a Will is important, but how can you make sure you are on the right track if you don’t understand the key terms that are mentioned in the process? Funeral Planning Experts want to make the experience as stress free as possible. We have created this jargon busting guide to make sure you are clear on the terms you may come across when making your Will.


When writing your Will, you should provide an ‘alternate’ for each appointment. This means that for every executor, beneficiary and guardian, there should be a ‘backup’.  This makes sure that every scenario is covered.


The beneficiary is the name given to the individual or organisation that you are leaving something to in your Will. This could be a family member, a friend, a charity or a business.


This is the actual gift that will be left in your Will. There are a few different types of bequest:

  • Residuary bequest – What is left of your estate when everything else is paid (see ‘Residue’ for more details)
  • Pecuniary bequest – The gift of a fixed sum of money.
  • Specific bequest – A particular named item, such as a piece of jewellery or an antique.


A codicil is a document which allows you to make changes to your existing Will should circumstances change. For example, you may need to add new grandchildren to your Will or remove a beneficiary if you get a divorce. A codicil can be used instead of writing a new Will from scratch. The codicil is then attached to your original Will.

Deed of Variation

This is a legal document which allows beneficiaries to change the terms of a Will. 


Your estate is the total of your property, personal possessions and savings, minus any outstanding debts.


Your executor is whoever you put in charge of making sure your final wishes are granted correctly. This could be a family member or friend, or can even be a professional such as a solicitor or charity.


The guardian is the person you choose to be responsible for caring for a child under the age of 18 (or 16 if you are in Scotland) in the event of your death.


The residue is what is left in the estate once everything has been taken care of. Your assets will be distributed between your funeral expenses, then your debts and taxes and your bequests, and anything that can’t be distributed as per your request will fall into the residual estate. This means that with the majority of Wills, the residual beneficiary is often the main beneficiary of the estate.


The testator is the name given to the person who has made the Will.


When signing your Will, you must have two witnesses present, and you will also need to watch them sign it, as well as them watch each other sign the Will. It is important that these witnesses are not a beneficiary or a spouse of a beneficiary.

Writing a Will can be both confusing and stressful if you are not completely sure of the process. At Funeral Planning Experts, we know the importance of getting it right and ensuring that your wishes are carried out the way you intend. We can put you in touch with a Will writing service to help you start your Will Writing process today.

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