Wills, trusts and wealth planning

It is crucial to take wealth planning advice particularly to have suitable, up to date and carefully drafted Wills and Trusts

Whether you are new parents, grandparents wanting to look after grandchildren, a business owner or wanting tax planning advice we tailor Wills to your specific circumstances for a fixed price.

Our solicitors have trained (often for many years) to specialise in drafting Wills and have the necessary experience and skill to ensure your Will carries out your wishes taking into account things like inheritance tax, care fees or Trusts. 

There are strict formalities governing how a Will must be signed and witnessed in order for it to be legally valid. It is easy to fall foul of these criteria making the Will worthless. The best way to ensure that your last wishes are clear is to instruct a legal professional.

Homemade Wills (commonly referred to as “DIY Wills”) and non-professionally drawn Wills are often unclear and legally uncertain, the consequences of which can be expensive to sort out.

We regularly advise on:

It is common nowadays for people to have complex family setups. A common quandary for individuals in their second relationship who have children from a previous relationship 

Whatever the circumstances, when you bring children to a relationship, it can create all sorts of problems with regards to inheritance who do not want their children (not their step-children) to inherit everything whilst ensuring your new spouse is provided for in case you die first.

A marriage cancels any previous Wills, so it may well be that your current arrangements if you die is that your spouse is your main Beneficiary.  Your Estate will then become part of their Estate and they have the freedom to leave their assets to whomever they choose which could may result in your step-children receiving everything when your spouse dies rather than it passing to your children / bloodline.

Unless you put Will arrangements in place you cannot be certain even if your spouse promises that your children receive what is rightfully theirs because of later family disputes or perhaps your spouse may even re-marry. 

The answer is to create a Trust in your Will so that your spouse is allowed to live in your home (or provided with some income) for the remainder of their life whilst the capital value of your home or savings are inherited by your children on their death. This arrangement gives you peace of mind that your spouse has somewhere to live and/or sufficient means and will ensure your own Estate does not part of theirs, ensuring that your step-children do not inadvertently inherit the lot.

While it’s very sad to have to contemplate, when you become a parent it’s very important to make or update your will to ensure your child would be cared for and protected if you were not there to look after them. Below are some of the most important provisions you’ll need to make for your child in your will.

Appoint a guardian

By making a will you can appoint a legal guardian to look after your child and take on Parental Responsibility until your child reaches the age of 18.

Choosing someone to look after your children should you die can be a very difficult decision to take and one that you may prefer not to think about. But it’s in your child’s best interests that you do consider it now. It’s best to first discuss the issue with the person or people you’d like to appoint – perhaps your parents or a brother or sister. Although this is a difficult issue they’re likely to be flattered to be asked. If you change your mind as to who would be best, you should amend your will at a later date. Without a legally binding will, the decision as to who would take care of your children may not be as you would have wanted.

Financial protection

It’s only by making a will that you can decide how your money, property and possessions (known as your estate) are divided upon your death.

If you’re married and don’t make a will, then the rules that will apply often mean that when you die none of your estate will go to your children. Instead it may all pass to your husband or wife or civil partner. If that person were to remarry, when they die your estate could pass to their new partner, leaving your children with nothing. You can protect them against this by making a will with specific provision for your children.

You can also use a will to ensure what different children receive; allowing you to decide what is best for your particular circumstances. In your will you can choose to leave your children a set sum of money or a particular item or a percentage of the value of your estate. You can decide whether or not they pay any inheritance tax and you can even link the gift to the inflation rate. 

Appoint ‘trustees’

Another advantage of preparing a will is that you can nominate the person or people who sort out your finances when you die – so you can be sure they’ll consider your children’s best interests. Another key decision you can take, is at what age your children receive any funds left to them. Without a will, if they were to receive anything at all, they would receive it when they reach the age of 18 – which some people feel is too young. By having a will, not only can you decide what they receive, you can also choose the age they will receive it; perhaps 21 or 25.

By writing a will and setting up a trust you can make sure that a family member who is vulnerable, has mental health issues or has a learning disability (amongst others) will get the financial support and protection they need after your death.

Why do I need a Will Trust?

If you don’t have a will or have a simple Will you may have no control over how your vulnerable loved one deals with money and possessions (your estate) inherited after your death. 

Rather than your loved one directly inheriting property or money instead it is held by the Trustees of your Will trust to look after on behalf of your loved one.  This is beneficial because it can:  

  • protect vulnerability

The Trustees can make decisions to meet the changing requirements of the disabled or vulnerable person during their lifetime. The Trustees can use their discretion to use any amounts of capital or income for your loved one depending on their needs.

  • protect means tested benefits and support

Your loved one does not have any fixed entitlement to receive money from the Trust, they only have a potential right to receive a benefit. Therefore, assets held by the Trustees are not taken into account when assessing any of the beneficiary’s entitlement to means-tested benefits or support.

Can’t I just leave all of my estate to one of my other children and tell them to look after their sibling?

Not only is this arrangement is not legally binding so you will be relying on your other children to be willing and able to carry out your wishes, but the inheritance becomes part of their own finances which could mean that part or all of the money intended for the person with a learning disability could be ‘lost’ for example, in a divorce settlement or through bankruptcy.

If you do not make proper provision for someone who is a dependant on you, such as your child with a learning disability, the courts can alter your will after your death to make sure that an inheritance is provided to help support them. Local authorities may apply to the courts on behalf of your child with a learning disability if you have left them out of your will.

Who should the Trustees be?

Always appoint people who are capable of coping with the responsibility and work involved. It is always best to ask the person whom you would like to appoint whether they are willing to act in this role before making your decision.

We can also act as Trustees and Executors if you would like us to but we will charge for our services.

Can I provide guidance to my trustees?

A Letter of Wishes is your opportunity to explain to the Trustees the reasons for setting up the Will Trust and to give them guidance on how the Trust fund should be used – for instance care, equipment or education.

The Letter should also make clear how the assets should be distributed to the other beneficiaries in the event of the death of the disabled or vulnerable beneficiary of the Trust – for example to other family members or a favourite charity. 

Whilst this Letter is not legally binding on Trustees, it can be referred to as guidance.

A trust can be a useful tool to reduce tax, pass assets through the generations or protect investments where young children.

Whether you want to protect assets until a certain age or maintain maximum flexibility we can advise on and draft a trust best suited to your requirements for a fixed price.

A trust is a legal arrangement where a person or group of people (the trustees) are appointed by someone (the settlor) to look after assets for the benefit of another group of people (the beneficiaries).

It can be a useful tool to: 

  • Hold assets on behalf of vulnerable beneficiaries to preserve their benefits and protect them from financial abuse;
  • Hold assets on behalf of minors for their benefit at a later date;
  • Give assets away and have them removed from your estate for inheritance tax purposes without losing control of the assets given;

Inheritance Tax is payable at 40% on any excess over your allowance which could impact your estate and the inheritance your leave.

We can advise on the inheritance tax planning opportunities available so that you can take advantage of the exemptions and allowances available in order to limit taxes payable on your estate.

For effective inheritance tax it is advisable to seek specialist advice at the earliest opportunity.

Some of the most effective inheritance tax planning options are:

  • A Will

Simply by making a Will you can ensure your assets are distributed in the most tax efficient manner. 

  • Allowable gifts 

Each year you can give cash or gifts worth up to £3,000 and these will be exempt from inheritance tax when you die.

Parents can give cash or gifts worth up to £5,000 when a child gets married, grandparents up to £2,500 and anyone else up to £1,000. 

Small gifts of up to £250 a year can also be made to as many people as you like.

  • Give away assets

You can give assets away but in order for the gift to end up outside of your estate (and not attract Inheritance tax) you must survive for seven years after making it.

  • Create trusts 

Assets can be put into trust. This means it may end up not forming part of your estate but you may still retain some control over how the assets are used.  

  • Surplus Income

If gifts are made out of surplus net income and they meet the strict criteria they will qualify as being exempt. 

Our team also has the knowledge and experience to advise you with regard to Capital Gains Tax and Income Tax.

Arrange a Free Consultation

call us on

call us on 0800 111 6370

Can we also help with?