• Making a Will allows you to appoint guardians for children under 18.
• You can specify the age at which your children inherit money outright – you may feel that 18 is too young.
• You can choose the Trustees of any assets left for your children – they’ll look after them until your children can inherit outright.
• If you are unmarried or if you have significant assets, your spouse/partner may not inherit anything/everything if you die.
• These decisions need to be made within a Will, making your family aware of what you want to happen is not sufficient.
You can appoint Guardians for your minor children (under 18) in your Will. It’s not uncommon to appoint more than one guardian, but as part of our discussions, we can cover the practicalities involved in appointing more than one Guardian.
As you never know what the future may hold, you can also appoint substitute Guardians, in case the ones you have picked are unable or unwilling to act – this is really important as this decision is just as important and you wouldn’t want to leave it to someone else.
Regardless of whether you are married or single, your appointments are usually made to subject to anyone else with parental responsibility predeceasing you.
Appointing guardians avoids the possibility of upheaval and uncertainty for your children whilst a
court decides on guardianship.
The age your children inherit
Although you may leave gifts to children in your Will, those gifts are held in trust for them until they are 18. Please note that including provision for this type of trust in your Will does not incur additional fees.
However, you can choose another age for your child to inherit between 18-25 without creating any tax implications.
Often children stand to inherit everything if something happens to you (or you and your spouse/partner) and this gift could be very significant.
The thought of an 18-year-old having unfettered access to very large sums of money could be a daunting one. It may be preferable for a trustee to approve any expenditure until a later age.
Choose your trustees
Until your children inherit outright, your trustees are the legal owners of the assets and have a legal obligation to manage them properly. We can discuss who to choose as trustees and why it can be sensible to make at least one guardian a trustee.
Your trustees are able to forward money to your children – and we can discuss the flexibility that they have in doing this.
If you are concerned that your children may not be capable of managing an inheritance or if your child is disabled, then you may wish to consider using a trust within your Will to best manage their inheritance. We can discuss this when we meet.
Make sure your spouse/partner inherits
If you are married or in a civil partnership and you die without making a Will, the intestacy laws dictate that they will receive the first £250,000 or you estate plus half of the balance. The other half will go to your children.
If you are unmarried, then your partner will not receive anything from your estate if you die without a Will. It will be directly inherited by your children.
Review your Will regularly
When making a Will it is important to review it regularly. This is essential when you have children. When children are very young, moving to live with grandparents in another town may be best for your children. This may not be the case once these children are older, have close friends, are settled in school and need to prepare for exams.
Include a letter of wishes
Alongside the appointments and provisions that you make in your Will, it is usual to then write a letter of wishes to your guardians and trustees. In this letter you outline the things that are important to you in bringing up your child. You might include:
• Where you would like them to go to school
• Any religious beliefs you would like them to follow
• Places or countries that you would like them to visit
• Where you would like them to live
• Guidance on the types of things you would want any money left to them to be spent on during their minority