Legal Terminologies pertaining to Succession


  • WILL: A will is a legal declaration of the intentions of a person with respect to his property which has to be carried out in the event of his death. It’s defined in Sec 2(h) of the Indian Succession Act, 1925.


  • CODICIL: A codicil is a document which explains or makes an addition or deletion to the will. It is held to be part of the will. Its defined under Sec 2(b) of the Indian Succession Act, 1925. E.g. Rajesh makes a will in which he divides his property between his two sons equally. Later, he writes a separate document wherein he details specific parts of his property which will be given to the elder son. This document is called a codicil and considered a part of his will.


  • EXECUTOR: The Executor is a person who has been appointed by the testator, to carry out the provisions of the will. It’s defined in Sec 2(c) of the Indian Succession Act, 1925. E.g. Mr. Krishnan authorises Tom, his attorney, to divide his property between his 2 sons and one daughter. Tom is thus, the executor of the will


  • LEGATEE: A legatee is a person who received the benefits of a will.


  • ESCHEAT: If a person dies without a legal heir, his property is transferred to the government. This is called Escheat.


  • INTESTATE: A person who dies intestate dies without making a will. The estate of the deceased is then settled according to the laws of the land.


  • CONSANGUINITY: Relation between people who have the same common ancestor.


  • ADMINISTRATOR: An administrator is a person who has been appointed by the court to distribute the property according to the terms of the will. An administrator is appointed if there is no executor mentioned in the will. It’s defined in Sec 2(a) of the Indian Succession Act, 1925.


  • PROBATE: Probate is a copy of the will which has been certified by the court for granting letter of Administration to the executor. It’s defined in Sec 2(f) of the Indian Succession Act, 1925.


  • LETTER OF ADMINISTRATION: A Letter of Administration is a letter issued by a court of authority which appoints the administrator to execute the will.


  • BEQUEST: The property which is distributed by the testator will is known as the Bequest.


  • ONEROUS BEQUESTS: An Onerous Bequest is a bequest which imposes an obligation on the legatee. The legatee cannot take an onerous bequest only if he accepts it fully. It’s defined in Sec 122 of the Indian Succession Act, 1925. E.g. Akshat, having shares in (X), a prosperous joint stock company and shares in (Y), joint stock company in difficulty, in respect of which shares heavy calls are expected to be made, bequeaths to Anchit all his shares in joint stock companies; Anchit refuses to accept the shares in (Y). Hence, he forfeits the shares in (X) too.


  • ATTESTING WITNESS: Attesting Witness is a person who signs the will as a witness for the purpose of identifying and proving it.


  • RESIDUARY LEGATEE: A residuary legatee is a legatee who receives the benefits of the residual part (the part that is left after payment of debts and expenses) of a will. E.g. While making her will, Shilpa states that after all her debt has been paid off and the funeral expenses paid, the remainder must be used in Varun’s education. Hence, Varun is a residuary legatee.


  • DEVOLUTION: Automatic transfer of property of a person to another according to law


  • LAPSED LEGACY: A lapsed legacy is a will which fails to take place due to the death of the legatee before the testator.


  • DEMONSTRATIVE LEGACY: A Demonstrative Legacy is a legacy which is directed to be paid out of a specific property. It is defined in Sec 150 of the Indian Succession Act, 1925.


  • ADEMPTION: When the property bequeathed by the testator is no longer in the possession of the testator (i.e. it has been given away or sold off) the will related to that particular legacy is adeemed or extinct. It’s defined in Sec 152 of the Indian Succession Act, 1925.


  • ANNUITY: An Annuity is a fixed sum of money that is payed to someone for the time that he is alive.


  • CURATOR: A Curator is a person who is appointed by the court for taking care of the estate of the testator until the Letter of Administration have been issued.


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