Top of main content

Bereavement glossary




The formal and legal term for dealing with the estate.


The person appointed to administer an estate where there is no valid will, or where the executor is unable, or unwilling, to act.


Property, money or possessions that belonged to the deceased.


A person appointed by another to act in his/her place.



A person who inherits all or part of the money or property from someone who has died.


Civil Partner

A civil partnership is a legally recognised relationship between two people of the same sex. A civil partnership only exists once it is registered. Once registered it confers the same rights and responsibilities as marriage. In some countries, such as France, civil partnerships are also available to opposite-sex couples who don’t wish to engage in a marriage contract.


This is a written amendment making changes to an existing will.

Coroner's Certificate

In certain circumstances a death has to be investigated by the Coroner. In these cases, a Coroner's Certificate may be provided in lieu of a death certificate or until the formal death certificate is issued.


Death certificate

The legal document issued by the registrar when a person dies. It is a copy of the entry in the death register.



The total value of everything owned by a person when they died – money, property and possessions.

The “Estate” or “Gross Estate” often describes the total value of the estate while the “Net Estate” describes what remains for distribution to the Beneficiaries after taxes, debts and other outgoings have been paid.


The person(s) named in a will who is the personal representative of the deceased. The Executor is legally responsible for gathering the deceased’s estate, accounting for it and distributing it, as well as being responsible for making sure the wishes of the person who died are carried out.


Grant of letters of administration

This is issued by the Probate Registry or relevant court where no valid will exists, or the deceased did not make a will. The document names the person(s) who are legally appointed to administer the deceased person's estate.

Grant of Probate

This is a legal document issued by the Probate Registry or relevant court confirming that a deceased person's will was valid and names the Executor(s) who are legally appointed to administer the deceased person's estate as set out in the will.



The informant is the person who notifies the bank of the death of a customer. This may be a Personal Representative, a family member, friend or relative.


When someone has died without having made a valid will or where the will does not deal with all the deceased assets. A person who dies without having made a valid will is known as having died ‘intestate'.


Next of kin

The closest related family member(s) of a person who has died. This is normally their husband, wife, civil partner or their child or children.


Personal representative

The person who is responsible for dealing with the estate.


The legal term for giving someone the authority to manage the estate of a person who has died.

Probate Registry

The Probate Registry is responsible for authenticating claims on a deceased person's estate, either a will or intestacy. Once authenticated they will issue a Grant of Probate or grant of letters of administration. 

In some jurisdictions, the probate registrar may also be empowered by law to formally appoint executors, or may have a court official who can perform this duty. In other countries this might be done by a judge or through separate court process.



The person who makes a will.



A document that states what someone would like to happen to their assets when they die. Also sometimes referred to as “Last Will and Testament”.

Listening to what you have to say about services matters to us. It's easy to share your ideas, stay informed and join the conversation.