I'm looking for a word to describe a person who leaves a legacy. It would be nice to call someone or a group of people that word. Similar to how being a maverick is someone who's different from the rest. I thought legateer would work, but this word doesn't exist.

  • 1
    Bequeather crops up (though not much) as a derived noun of bequeath. Jun 19, 2020 at 12:09
  • Note that a testator is someone who writes a will, a legator is someone who leaves a legacy, so though they may be the same person, they are used in reference to different acts and therefore are not contextual equivalents. Jun 20, 2020 at 22:02

3 Answers 3


The legal term here is...

testator - a person who dies leaving a will or testament in force

...but you'd rarely hear that in normal conversational contexts. Ordinary people don't have a word for "person who died leaving a will" - presumably because there's little need for it outside of legal contexts.

BUT - if we move slightly away from the specific context of "dead person's last will and testament", there will often be contexts where the appropriate word is...

someone or something that provides help or an advantage : one that confers a benefit
especially : a person who makes a gift or bequest



In UK English

Seems to be valid in US too.

I don't recall ever having used either legatee or legator. I would use beneficiary and benefactor.

  • 1
    The full OED entry for legator, definition A person who gives something by will; a testator, has "frequency indicator" value 2 (out of a maximum 8). But their entry for testator has frequency 5. Until I just checked the relevant NGram I'd have thought benefactor was far more common, but apparently it's about on a par with testator. Jun 19, 2020 at 15:39
  • 1
    To emphasise @FumbleFingersReinstateMonica's point: the frequency bands are logarithmic - each is roughly 10 times more frequent than the previous. So a frequency 5 word is about 1,000 times more common than a frequency 2 one.
    – TripeHound
    Jun 20, 2020 at 11:04
  • @TripeHound: I didn't know that useful snippet. Ty for the info! :) Jun 20, 2020 at 11:22
  • @FumbleFingersReinstateMonica See the freely-accessible Key to frequency for all the gory details!
    – TripeHound
    Jun 20, 2020 at 11:23

Also, you may want to look at the differences between legatee, devisee and beneficiary

Beneficiary– a person entitled to any part or all of an estate. Legatee– a person designated by a will to receive a transfer of personal property. Devisee– a person designated by a will to receive a transfer of real property.

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