The legal terms used when discussing Wills can be confusing, so below is a glossary to help with these.

To learn more about leaving a gift in your will to ShelterBox, visit our Gifts in Wills page.

Bequest or legacy

A gift in a will to a person or organisation. There are different types of bequests

Residuary legacy

A gift of the residue (or a share of the residue) of the estate. Residue is whatever is left after all debts, funeral expenses, certain other costs and tax and any other legacies have been deducted.

Pecuniary legacy

A gift of a fixed sum of money. The value of a pecuniary gift will decrease over time, as the cost of living increases.

Specific legacy

A gift of a particular named item – for example, a piece of jewellery, furniture, a painting, buildings, land, house contents, chattels, shares, etc.

Contingent legacy

A gift that is dependent upon the occurrence of an event which may or may not happen. For example, a gift to a charity which applies only if other beneficiaries named in a will die before the individual dies.

Life interest / reversionary bequest

A right to enjoy property, or the proceeds of investment of property, until death or in the case of some reversionary interests, some other event. The beneficiary of a life interest is known as the ‘life tenant’. The interest will cease on death of the life tenant.

Gift in remainder / remainder, interest in

An interest/gift in property that comes into effect after a prior interest in the property has ended e.g. in a property subject to a life interest. A beneficiary of a gift/interest in remainder is known as a ‘remainderman’.


‘Charity’ is used to denote both charities (in the strict legal sense) and other voluntary organisations promoting or supporting charitable, benevolent or philanthropic purposes.


A document which amends (e.g. alters or adds to) a will. It must be drawn up and executed in the same way as a will in order to be valid.


All the deceased’s assets and liabilities (debts) at death.


The persons appointed by an individual in his/her will who are responsible for administering the deceased person’s estate. Personal representatives include executors.

Legally qualified

Someone who holds a qualification recognised by the Law Society of England and Wales, the Law Society of Scotland, the Law Society of Northern Ireland, the Bar Council of England and Wales or Northern Ireland, the Faculty of Advocates in Scotland or the Institute of Legal Executives.


The beneficiary of a legacy.


Someone who has died leaving a legacy to a charity. A ‘potential legator’ is someone who may include a gift to charity in his or her will.


A promise or statement that an individual intends to include a legacy in their will or has already done so. It is not a binding contract.


The term ‘pledger’ is used to denote someone who has informed the charity that they have included, or plan to include, a legacy to that charity in their will.

Professional will-writer

For the purposes of this guidance, a professional will-writer is an individual that meets the following standards:

  • Can provide proof that she/he has passed an examination in the subject of wills with a recognised legal training provider. Recognised legal training providers include law colleges and training institutes accredited by the Law Society of England and Wales, the Institute of Legal Executives, Central Law Training, STEP and the Institute of Professional Will writers. This listing should not be taken as being exhaustive
  • Has professional indemnity insurance (minimum cover £2m)
  • Undergoes mandatory continuing professional development (minimum 20 hours a year)
  • Offers the ability for clients to gain redress from a recognised body in default of the individual, the body holding adequate funds for this purpose
  • Holds membership of a professional body which has a mandatory Code of Conduct and can regulate; sanctions must include expulsion from membership
Restricted fund

Monies or property required to be held for a specific project or cause, rather than for the general funds of a charity.


Someone who has offered time or money to help the charity carry out its work or achieve its objectives.


Someone who has made a will.


Either a will or a codicil. In order to be valid, a will/codicil must be drawn up and executed in accordance with certain formalities. Both can include a legacy to charity.

Get in touch

We know that leaving a gift in your Will is something you’ll want to think about very carefully.

If you’d like to discuss leaving a gift to ShelterBox, please call for our Gift in Wills experts on 0300 0300 500 or email us.