Putting your faith in trusts
As families become more fragmented with the ever-increasing number of divorces and remarriages, deciding how best to bequeath your estate can become a tricky affair. Many people who remarry for a second or more time may be concerned that in time their estate will benefit their spouse or step-children more than their own children. Or in a situation similar to that faced by Peggy Woolley on BBC Radio 4’s ‘The Archers’, there may be a feeling that whilst some children are financially stable, others may make poor financial decisions. Consequently it is the younger generation that would profit more from receiving the inheritance rather than their parents.
When writing a Will, trying to bypass a spouse or choosing to skip a generation can be very problematic. Undoubtedly everyone has the right to choose who will inherit his or her estate. Will disputes are however increasing, which can be very distressing for all involved as well as costly, so it is better to get the planning right.
Firstly if you remarry you need to take into account that the act of marriage cancels out any previous Will, so you will therefore need to write a new Will.
Sitting down with your family and discussing who will become the beneficiaries will remove the element of surprise, but it will not necessarily prevent the Will from being challenged.
You may wish to consider setting up a trust. The settlor can be very specific by putting a series of rules in place about who has access to the funds and when.
For instance, those like Peggy Woolley who consider their children to be financially comfortable or who are worried about a child’s financial abilities can set up a trust to only pay out if the beneficiary is in financial need – for instance if they are suddenly made redundant. If the money is not required, it can then pass to different beneficiaries, such as grandchildren.
For more information contact Alex Astley