Top of main content

Bereavement glossary



Absolute interest

An interest that the beneficiary is completely entitled to immediately, without any restrictions.

Acquisition (probate value)

The value at which either the personal representatives or the beneficiary acquires the assets.


The formal and legal term for dealing with the estate.

Administration period

The period between the date of death and the date of the close of administration.


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

Agreed value

The probate value as formally agreed by HMRC where inheritance tax is payable.

Appointment, power of

Person(s) named in a Will to dispose of certain property.


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.


Capital Gains Tax (CGT)

Capital Gains Tax is a tax on capital 'gains'. If when you sell or give away an asset that has increased in value, you may be taxable on the profit/gain.

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.


This is a written amendment making changes to an existing will. To be valid the document must be signed and witnessed and refer to an existing will.


This is a legal document issued by the Sheriff's Court in Scotland where the deceased lived in Scotland. It is the equivalent to the Grant of Probate issued in England and Wales.

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.

Deed of variation

This allows beneficiaries to change how the estate is distributed to reflect family circumstances or possibly save future inheritance tax.


This can be an ongoing disagreement or argument between family members/beneficiaries of an estate or Executors. It can also be where a third party is challenging the validity of a Will or is making a claim on the deceased estate or where all the persons entitled to deal with the estate cannot be found or are known.



The total value of everything owned by a person when they died – money, property and possessions – after any debts they had have been settled.

Estate accounts

Accounts listing all of transactions during the administration period.


The person(s) named in a will who is 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 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 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. In Scotland this document is called ‘Confirmation' and is issued by the Sheriffs Court.

Grant of representation

A general term for a document that provides proof that someone has been legally appointed to deal with a deceased person's estate.


Inheritance tax

Tax that is paid from the estate of a person who has died and must be paid before the estate is shared out to the beneficiaries.


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


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


Legacy or bequest

A gift contained in a will, i.e.: a specific item or general bequest of money.

Letters of Administration

A legal document issued by the Probate Registry naming the person appointed to administer a deceased person estate when the person died without making a will.


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/children.

Nil rate band

The value of assets which a deceased person can leave to friends or family without them having to pay any inheritance tax.


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. In Scotland, Probate is known as Confirmation.

Probate Registry

The Probate Registry is a legal court which is responsible for authenticating claims on a deceased person estate either a Will or Intestacy and will legally appoint a person(s) to administer the estate. Once authenticated they will issue a grants of probate or grant of letters of administration. In Scotland this is the Sheriffs Court.


Renouncing probate

The act whereby a named personal representative signs a legal document which cancels his/her appointment from the start.

Residuary estate

What remains of the estate after payment of all debts, legacies and all taxes and expenses.



Either member of a married pair in a relation to the other, one's husband or wife.



The person who makes a will


The person(s) who are authorized or have a position of trust or responsibility for holding or managing assets for the benefit of another.



A document which states what someone would like to happen to their assets when they die.

Letting us know

Call us

0800 085 1992

or +44 (0)114 252 0249 if you're calling from outside the UK

* Lines are open 8:30 to 18:00, Monday to Friday and Saturdays 9:00 to 14:00 (excluding public holidays).

General enquiries

Notify us online

You can inform us of a bereavement online.

Write to us

You can send documents to:

HSBC Bereavement Services

51 Saffron Road


LE18 4AG 

Our top 5 FAQs

It's easy to answer your query online. Visit our Help page to find out how.