Wills, Probate, Tax & Trusts
Legal Q&A: Why you should make a Will - especially if you have children.July 12, 2017
A Will is particularly important for anyone, but especially those with children. It is only through your Will that you can appoint a guardian to take over parental responsibility for you, if you die before they are 18 years old (and there is no surviving parent).
What happens if I have re-married?
Marriage has the effect of cancelling any Will already in place, unless there is specific wording within that Will stating otherwise. Therefore, it is imperative that you make a new Will following any marriage. If you do not have a Will, the Rules of Intestacy will apply. If you are married with children, your spouse will receive the first £250,000 of your estate, plus all personal possessions, plus half of any remaining sum. Your children could therefore be left out entirely, or not benefit from the amount or the personal gifts that you might want them to have.
How can I protect assets for my children?
- You can make a Will leaving a percentage of your estate to your children and a percentage to your spouse.
- You could include a Trust within your Will allowing your spouse to benefit from all or some of your estate for their lifetime and then on their death (or earlier remarriage or cohabitation), the Trust could come to an end and all Trust assets pass outright to your children at that point.
- You could include a Discretionary Trust within your Will where there are a group of potential beneficiaries, who could include your spouse and children and grandchildren. Your trustees would decide, in accordance with any written guidance from you, who should receive what and at what time in their lives.
How can I protect vulnerable or disabled children?
If you have a child who is going through a divorce or bankruptcy, or is in a troubled relationship, you can leave their share of your estate in a Discretionary Trust, as mentioned above. This means that because there are a group of potential beneficiaries, your vulnerable child is not entitled to those assets outright on your death. Your trustees could be left instructions to distribute the estate to that child once their issues have been resolved, for example, their divorce is finalised or bankruptcy has been discharged.
You may also wish to do so if you have a child who is suffering from alcoholism or drug addiction. Trustees can be requested to only distribute assets to that child when they are in recovery or at a time in their lives when they are in a more stable position, or to provide a home or other material goods for that child.