Common Legal Jargon in Wills and Trusts

When you haven’t spent years studying law, it can be easy to get overwhelmed by legal terms and concepts. If you’re in a situation where you are dealing with wills and/or trusts, it’s especially best to take the time to stop and understand what everything means; otherwise, you are simply flying blind and the consequences can be dire. Below you’ll find general explanations for some common legal jargon; please be advised that for legal advice, you should always consult a professional, such as those at The Will Dispute Lawyers. Nothing can substitute guidance from a trained lawyer.

Last Will And Testament
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A trust is a legal arrangement or relationship whereby a person is obligated to hold property for the benefit of a beneficiary or beneficiaries.


A person, group or entity that manages or holds assets on behalf of a beneficiary, as stipulated by the trust.


A beneficiary is a person who will receive something as per a will or trust.

Next of Kin

This means your closest living relation. In the event that you do not have a will upon your death, your next of kin may be asked to look after your estate.


This refers to any assets, such as property or money, that you leave behind on your death.


This is the individual who is responsible for enacting the will and distributing the assets as requested.


This is a legally binding alteration to an existing will. This could be an addition, a revocation or a clarification of any part. In most instances, a legal professional would advise creating a new will instead.


A will is another legal document that states how your assets are to be dealt with after you have passed away. You can stipulate any funeral wishes in your will, as well as appointing a guardian for your children.


A contingent gift is one that is made on a particular condition or conditions. If those conditions are not met, the gift will not be made. For example, a father may leave a gift to his wife that is to be passed on to his daughter if the wife were to die. Therefore, the gift being received by the daughter is contingent upon the wife passing away.

Vesting Date

The date on which a beneficiary or beneficiaries become entitled to the assets of the trust.


The person or persons who witness you signing your will. It is highly recommended that this individual or these individuals be nonbiased parties, as opposed to say, your spouse or any beneficiary of the will.

Navigating your way through legalese can be difficult, but the key is to master one concept at a time. With the right amount of knowledge, you can make informed decisions and get the best possible result for your unique situation.

Did you find this list of terms useful? What other concepts have you come across? Have you been in a situation where a lack of knowledge adversely affected your circumstances? To share your thoughts and experiences, leave a comment in the section below.

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