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Legal Jargon Explained

Legal Jargon Explained

Talking to your parents about their wishes as they age can be tricky. This includes making legal plans with or for them – which is made even harder by the legal jargon you may need to wade through.

Sorting out legal matters with your parents sooner rather than later will make life easier if you need to make decisions about care, funding for care, and end of life.   

legal glossary

Here is our short guide to the key legal jargon  that you may encounter. We have translated it into plain English, and included links to our easy-to-understand legal guides if you want more information about any particular areas.

Advance Decision

An Advance Decision, also known as a Living Will, is a statement explaining what medical treatment an individual would NOT want in the future, should they ‘lack capacity’ to make that decision at the time.

This may also be referred to as an ADRT (Advance Decision to Refuse Treatment). An Advanced Decision used to be referred to as an ‘Advance Directive’, but this term is not used anymore.

An Advance Decision includes the option of a ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ order, which tells a medical team not to perform CPR (Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation) on a patient in an emergency.

Court of Protection

If someone is mentally incapable of making decisions and there is no Lasting Power of Attorney in place, the matter can be referred to the Court of Protection.

The Court of Protection will either make the decision itself on the person’s behalf, or appoint a “deputy”, to make the decision.


The Estate is everything that a person owns, for legal purposes. The Estate is made up of money, property, shares and investments, personal belongings and any money paid out on life insurance policies.

The Estate also includes anything that the deceased person owes, including their debts.

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The Executor is someone named in a will as having the legal responsibility for carrying out the instructions left in the will. 

You require a Grant of Representation to confirm you are the executor.

Grant of Representation

A Grant of Representation is a document needed to confirm you are the Executor of someone’s will.

Having a Grant of Representation gives you the right to apply and administer the estate: the process known as Probate.


Intestacy refers to a situation where someone has died without leaving behind a will. It may also be referred to as dying intestate.

It means that the distribution of their Estate must be carried out according to a set of legal rules: the Rules of Intestacy.

Office of the Public Guardian

The Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) protects people in England and Wales who may not have the mental capacity to make certain decisions for themselves, such as matters of health and finance.

Power of Attorney

A Power of Attorney (POA) is a legal document which enables a person to give power to another to look after their affairs when they no longer have the capacity to do so themselves.


Probate refers to the process of administering the Estate of someone that has died, in line with their Will.

A Grant of Probate is an order of the Court giving one or more people the legal authority to administer the Estate of the deceased to distribute its content to the beneficiaries.

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Statutory Will

A Statutory Will is a will that is written on behalf of someone who is unable to write their own. It needs to be approved by the Court of Protection.


A Will, also known as a Last Will and Testament, is a legally enforceable declaration of how someone wants their Estate to be distributed after death.