what does this mean?

glossary of terms


THE person who applies to and is appointed by the court to take charge of an estate, in accordance with the Estate Administration Act. This can occur when there is no valid will, or if there is a will and no executor is named or able to take charge of the estate.


A person who, under the terms of the will, receives a benefit — a specific item or sum of money, a life interest in the assets of the estate or a share of the residue.


A bond insures the value of the estate. When a government or business needs to raise money, they may decide to issue a bond. A bond is really not much more than an IOU with a serial number. More impressive names for bond include debt securitiesor fixed-income securities.

Clearance Certificate

It’s wise to obtain a tax clearance certificate from the Canada Revenue Agency. This certificate confirms that all income taxes or fees of the estate are paid. Finally on checklist is the final thing to tick off, and it may be a year coming. This is the form that says you are finished, at least it did for us.


A document signed by the testator and two witnesses that changes the original terms of the will.

Death Benefit

CANADA Pension Plan survivor benefits are paid to a deceased contributor’s estate, surviving spouse or common-law partner and dependent children. There are three types of benefits:
The death benefit is a one-time payment to, or on behalf of, the estate of a deceased Canada Pension Plan contributor;
The survivor’s pension is a monthly pension paid to the surviving spouse or common-law partner of a deceased contributor;
The children’s benefit is a monthly benefit for dependent   children of a deceased contributor.


ALL assets/possessions left by a person after his or her death.


THE person named in the will to take charge of disposing or distributing the estate according to the directions left by the testator. One of the primary duties of the executor is to apply, when necessary, for a Grant of Probate to allow for the transfer of assets from the estate to the beneficiaries.

Grant of Letters of Administration

THE grant issued by the court officially naming someone, usually a spouse or relative, as the administrator of the estate.

Grant of Letters of Administration with Will Annexed

THE grant issued by the court appointing an administrator, usually a beneficiary, when there is a valid will but no executor.

Grant of Letters Probate

OFFICIAL confirmation given by the court that the person named as executor is the proper person to settle the estate. Financial institutions, when they hold any of the estate’s assets, and ownership registries, like the Land Title and Survey Authority of BC or the Motor Vehicle Branch, will generally require this confirmation before allowing the transfer of assets.


THE person who, by law, inherits the estate of a deceased person.

Holograph Will

A will written entirely in the handwriting of the deceased and signed by him or her. This is considered a valid will in the Yukon. Will forms purchased in stationery stores are not holograph wills.


WHEN a person dies without leaving a will, or dies leaving a will that is considered invalid by the laws of the Province.

Joint tenants

JOINT tenants is when the individuals share equal ownership and have the equal, undivided right to keep or dispose of the property. If the property is held as ‘joint tenants’ should one of the owners die, it automatically passes to the surviving partner, regardless of whether a will has been made

Life Interest

THE interest on the assets of the estate, but not the assets themselves, over the lifetime of the beneficiary.

Living Will

A Living Will is a document that an adult makes to express his/her wishes regarding medical treatment, if the adult subsequently becomes unable to express his/her wishes in that regard. They can range from very general, e.g. “I do not wish heroic efforts made to keep me alive” to very specific, e.g. “I do not want to receive any blood or blood products”.

Notary or Notary Public

A notary public (or notary or public notary) in the common law world is a public officer constituted by law to serve the public in non-contentious matters usually concerned with estates, deeds, powers-of-attorney, and foreign and international business. A notary’s main functions are to administer oaths and affirmations, take affidavits and statutory declarations, witness and authenticate the execution of certain classes of documents (note in British Columbia, a Notary may have different powers than in other provinces).

Personal Representative

THE person, either an executor or an administrator, who is considered to represent the deceased in all matters concerning his or her estate.

Power Of Attorney

A Power of Attorney (POA) is a written authorization that allows you to represent, or act on another’s behalf in private affairs, business, or some other legal matter. There are a few different types of POA, so this should indeed be completed by a lawyer, while the person is still able to make decisions on their own behalf. Remember to get extra copies; this is a document that all government offices will want a copy of, as you close down accounts and complete final taxes etc.


PROBATE  is a term that is used in several different ways. Probate can refer to the act of presenting a will to a court officer for filing — such as, to “probate” a will. But in a more general sense, probate refers to the method by which your estate is administered and processed through the legal system after you die.
The probate process helps you transfer your estate in an orderly and supervised manner. Your estate must be dispersed in a certain manner (your debts and taxes paid before your beneficiaries receive their inheritance, for example). Think of the probate process as the “script” that guides the orderly transfer of your estate according to the rules. Read more here.

Representation Agreement

A Representation Agreement is a document that allows an adult to choose a person (or persons) to make decisions for them. It is similar to an Enduring Power of Attorney in that regard, but it may also allow the Representative to make decisions regarding the adult’s health and personal care. An Enduring Power of Attorney is limited to financial and legal matters. The Representation Agreement may cover finances or health or both.


THE balance of the estate after all specific gifts have been distributed and all debts have been paid.

Right of Survivorship

THE right of a surviving joint owner to total ownership of an asset after the other joint owner’s death.

Tenants in common

THIS is where the ‘tenants in common’ each have a definite share in the property – for example, it could be that the couple own the property in equal shares or that one person owns a larger share than the other. However, the big difference is that if one of the owners dies, their share of the property would not automatically pass to the surviving owner


THE person who has made the will.


A document, conforming to the requirements of Provincial law, that contains directions for the disposal or distribution of a person’s assets after his or her death.