Glossary of Terms

Some legal terms explained Administrator

A person appointed by the Probate Office to handle the estate of someone who has died without leaving a valid will (that is, someone who has died intestate) or who has left a will but there are no living executors mentioned in it. The people who are entitled to act as administrator is set out in the Succession Act 1965 and, generally speaking, are the spouse and next of kin of the deceased. More than one administrator may be appointed to deal with the estate.


Any property, money or possessions that belonged to the deceased person.


A person who is left something in a will or who has property held for them by trustees or executors.

Capital acquisitions tax

Is a tax that someone who receives a gift or inheritance may have to pay. When it applies to inheritances it is sometimes called “inheritance tax”. See below for more about inheritance tax.

Certified copy

Certified copies are copies of original documents (e.g. passport or death certificate) certified as being true copies by lawyers or some other professionals.


This is a written amendment or addition to a will. It must be signed and witnessed in the same way that a will is.

Death certificate

An official document showing the information registered when someone dies, including the date, place and cause of death.

Deed of Assignment

A deed of assignment of life policy is a legal document under which a life-insurance policy can be transferred (assigned) from the current owner to another person or organisation. For example, when taking out a mortgage, you may assign your life insurance policy by way of security to your mortgage lender to pay off your mortgage if you die.


The property and assets belonging to a person who has died is called their estate.


A person named in a will to carry out the wishes in it. There may be more than one executor, and their duties will typically include making sure that any inheritance tax is paid and applying for a grant of probate.

Grant de Bonis Non

A de bonis non grant is a special type of grant of administration to deal with estates that have not been completely administered. It may be needed where a personal representative has extracted a previous grant of representation but does not or cannot fully administer the estate, for example where the personal representative dies.

Grant of administration

An official order issued from the Probate Office appointing an administrator over the estate of a person who has died without leaving a valid will. This is sometimes called “Letters of administration” or “Grant of letters of administration.”

Grant of administration with will annexed

If the deceased left a will but did not appoint an executor or if the named executor is unable to carry out the duty then the grant of probate is called “Grant of administration with will annexed.”This is sometimes called “Letters of administration with will annexed” or “Grant of letters of administration with will annexed.”

Grant of probate

This is the document in which the Probate Office accepts the will as valid and confirms who the executors are. If there is a valid will, you or your solicitor apply to the Probate Office for a Grant of Probate.

Grant of representation

This term means either the grant of probate or grant of administration.

Inheritance tax (also called capital acquisitions tax)

Inheritance tax is a tax that may need to be paid, depending on the relationship between the person who has died and the person receiving the inheritance and the threshold that applies to the nature of that relationship. The threshold is the maximum total value of all the gifts or inheritances that a person can receive from relations of a particular class before tax has to be paid. For example, the threshold for all gifts and inheritances from aunts and uncles is lower than the threshold for all gifts and inheritances from parents. The date when an inheritance is taken may vary depending on the type of inheritance. For example, some inheritances are considered to be taken at the date of death, and others are considered to be taken on the date the grant of probate or letters of administration are issued. You should consult the Revenue Commissioners or your solicitor to find out what the relevant date is.


A person dies intestate if they do not leave a valid will.


A gift contained in a will.

Next of kin

A person’s closest living relative or relatives. This is usually their spouse (husband, wife or civil partner) or any children, or their spouse and children together. If the person who has died has no husband, wife, civil partner or children, their parents, brothers and sisters may be their next of kin.

Personal representative

This general term refers to either an administrator or executor.


Probate is the legal process where the Probate Office certifies that the will is genuine and allows the executor to deal with the estate.

Statement of balance

A list of accounts and account balances held by the person who has died.


Probate is the legal process where the Probate Office certifies that the will is genuine and allows the executor to deal with the estate.


A will is a legal document setting out details of how a person wants their estate to be distributed after their death. It specifies the person or people (executors) he or she wants to carry out the will’s instructions. There are strict rules on how a will is to be signed and witnessed and the Probate Office will not accept as a valid will a document that does not follow these rules.