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Glossary of Legal Terms

Administrator, Administratrix

    Man/ woman appointed by the Courts to distribute the estate of a person who died without a Will.

Dependents' Relief Act

    Ontario law permitting a spouse or child to obtain benefits from an estate if not provided for in the Will.


    Paying out of money or assets held in trust to a beneficiary.


    Appropriation by government of an estate without a Will or next-of-kin.

Estate File


    Man/ woman named in a Will to distribute the estate.


    Organized by surname initial and date. Gives the number of the deceased's Estate File and/or the Register and page number.


    A person, or the act of dying, without a Will.

Letters of Administration; with Will Annexed

    Court grant appointing an administrator to distribute the estate of a person dying without a Will; the same in cases where the Executor named in the Will has since died.

Letters Probate

    Court grant confirming the Executor named in the Will. Includes the official transcript of the will.

Life interest

    Benefits awarded by a Will to be enjoyed only during the beneficiary's life.


    Also known as Probate and Administration books, they contain the court's copy of all grants of probate (in estates with wills) and administration (estates without wills).  Prior to 1858, there was no standard format established for the Registers so their contents and organization can vary.  After 1858, a standard format was laid down and copies of wills were to be included after Grants of Probate, and, copies of bonds were to be included after Grants of Administration.

Succession Duty Act (1892)

    Ontario law requiring duty be paid on estates. The Act dictates a full valuation be made of the estate with a beneficiaries roll listing their relation (if any) to the deceased. Proof of payment of all duties had to be filed with the Court before the estate could be finally probated.


    A person, or the act of dying, with a Will.


    Man/ woman who makes a Will.


    A deposition made before witnesses, outlining the deceased's final wishes. May include later codicils (amendments). The original was filed in the Estate File and a transcription copied into the Register. Early courts allowed Wills to be registered "in anticipation" but this not mean they were eventually probated.

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