Probate and the Legal Jargon of Settling an Estate

Couple talking to a solicitor

The law is full of words that have no meaning in real life. When people buy a house, they need the services of a conveyancing solicitors, which sounds more like something to do with transport than homes. When people die, a legal process of distributing their assets and paying their debts and taxes kicks off and for this a firm of probate solicitors in Portsmouth is required.

Finding a good firm of probate solicitors in Portsmouth is key to making the process run smoothly, especially if, as is often the case, those executing the will or benefitting from it are being tricky. There are plenty of solicitors to choose from, including Andrew & Andrew Solicitors. They can guide executors through the process of settling an estate and deal with the paperwork, but the executors also need some understanding of what is going on and the legal jargon involved. Let’s look at some of the legal jargon that crops up in this process.


Probate is the name for the legal process of proving that a will is valid. As a word, probate could mean anything, and it doesn’t automatically put you in mind of anything to do with wills. In fact, it comes from the Latin, as does much of English legal jargon, verb probare, which means ‘to inspect’.


The person or people with the legal authority to act on your behalf to ensure that the wishes in your will are carried out. Executor(s) are appointed when you make a will.


This is the total value of everything you own when you die, minus any outstanding debts and taxes.

The Crown and Treasury

If you don’t leave a will, or you have no next of kin, the Crown gets your estate.

Inheritance Tax

The amount that must be paid to the government on high-value estates. This is 40%.


The state of not having a made a will.


Someone who is appointed to settle the affairs of someone who has died intestate.


A change to an existing will.


Someone who receives something in a will.

There’s a lot of jargon, but understanding the basics will help in dealings with the probate solicitors in Portsmouth.