If someone died intestate (qv) their goods were administered after a probate court had granted letters of administration (often abbreviated to admon) to a relative, creditor, or stranger appointed by the court. The court could also grant letters “ad colligendum bona defuncti” to a stranger to gather up the goods of the deceased, or act itself. Persons seeking to administer an estate might make an allegation to the court of their intent, and then upon receiving letters of administration, be required to enter into an administration bond with sureties, to make an inventory of the goods of the deceased, and render a true account of them.
In addition, if the executor named in a will had died, or refused to fulfil their role, the court would commit administration of the goods to the person with the largest beneficial interest in the estate. (This is generally known as an administration with will annexed.)
Recipient of benefits, here some or all of the items in a will
Dating a will
In the Wiltshire Wills catalogue, "new style" (Gregorian calendar) dating has been used. The major difference you will notice is that prior to 1752, a will that says it was made in Jan-Mar of one year, was actually made in the year following, according to the modern calendar, so there may be a discrepancy between the date on the will and the date in the catalogue.
The state of having died without making a will
An 'oral' will - a witnessed statement of an individual's will made when too ill to sign it themselves.
The introductory part of a document
Existing or occurring before marriage
The official proving of a will to allow the testator's (qv) wishes to be put into effect.
A probate court would determine if a will was lawful, and if so, annex a probate to it, which confirmed the will. (This was usually done by writing the probate [in Latin prior to 1733] on the back of the will.) The original will was usually then filed and kept by the court. A probate copy of the will was made and sealed by the court, and given to the executor as his authority to act (this copy may therefore not be held in the archives). A third copy of the will was often made, written in a bound volume of registered wills. (For Wiltshire, these are indicated by a reference number containing the word REG.) The original copy is the only one to contain the testator’s signature, therefore. A fee had to be paid for registration, and for some courts there may be a number of unregistered wills.
A will and/ or statement of one's beliefs
Person who has made a will
A promise by a tutor or guardian to provide for the unmarried infant children of the deceased, bring them up appropriately, and administer their goods faithfully. Boys aged 14 and girls aged 12 could appoint their own guardians, notwithstanding their fathers’ wills.
Written directions in legal form for disposition of one's property after death