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Legacy Jargon Buster

The Institute of Fundraising have produced a Legacy Jargon Buster, to help you to understand some of the terms used when considering a legacy.


A person, or an organisation, to whom you leave a gift in your will


A gift you leave in your will to a person or organisation. There are different
types of bequests. The main ones are:
Residuary bequest
A gift of the remainder of your estate after all other gifts have been made
and debts cleared. You may leave either the total of the remainder or a
percentage of it.
Pecuniary bequest
A gift of a fixed sum of money. The value of a pecuniary gift will decrease
over time, as the cost of living increases.
Specific request
A particular named item left as a gift in your will. For example, a piece of
jewellery, furniture, a painting etc
Contingent bequest
A gift in your will that is dependent upon the occurrence of an event which
may or may not happen. For example, a gift to a charity which applies
only if other beneficiaries named in your will die before you die.


Any change or addition that you make to your will. However, it is now
considered best practice to effect changes by getting a new will drafted rather
than by making a codicil to an existing will.


The total sum of your possessions, property and money left at your death
after debts have been paid.


Person(s) appointed by you to ensure the wishes in your will are carried out.

Inheritance Tax

The 40% tax paid when you die on the proportion of your estate that is over
the nil-rate band threshold. This threshold varies every tax year. Further
details on the current tax threshold are available on the HM Revenue and
All gifts in your will to charity are free of inheritance tax.


The term for a person who dies without having a will. Under the Rules of
Intestacy, if you die without a will certain relations are entitled to apply for your
estate. If you do not have any surviving blood relations the state will apply for
your estate.


Any gift you leave in your will to a person or organisation.

Life Interest

The right of a beneficiary to benefit from part or all of your estate for their
lifetime. For example, in your will you give a relative/friend the right to live in a
property for their lifetime.


Official proof that a will is valid. After your death, probate must be applied for
by your executors if your estate is over £5,000. It is granted by the court on
the production of the necessary documents and granting probate gives your
executors the authority to administer your will and distribute your estate
according to your wishes.


The total sum of your possessions, property and money left at your death
after debts and gifts of fixed sums to beneficiaries have been paid


A person who has made a will

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