Q&A How can I protect my son’s inheritance share if I die before he reaches 18?

Q:      I am widowed with two older stepchildren, and a son who is a minor. I want to leave 50% of my estate to my son and 50% shared between my stepchildren. Presumably I would need to appoint a guardian to look after my son until he is 18 and old enough to inherit? My stepdaughter would be best choice, but her house is small so she would need to move into my house. How best could I provide for my son’s upkeep and ensure the house was sold when he reached 18?

A:       You could create a trust in your Will, to include your house and other assets. You would need to appoint trustees to manage the trust and prepare a letter of wishes advising them on how you would want the trust fund dealt with, e.g, authorising payment for your son’s needs such as clothing, food etc, and running costs of your current home if your son and his guardian live there. You can stipulate that the trust be wound up when your son reaches 18 and your house be sold and the proceeds plus other remaining assets in the trust be shared out as per your wishes.  You must ensure that you appoint trustees who will follow your intentions for the trust.

Another option could be to leave a gift of money in your Will to your son’s guardian, as a thank you for providing for him. This is called a pecuniary gift. Alternatively, you could leave your son a share in your estate, and your executors could sell your house immediately following your death and invest your son’s entitlement in the estate until he reaches 18.  You can leave a letter of wishes giving guidance on how you want money from your estate to be used for your son’s upbringing. In some circumstances a guardian’s allowance may be granted as an additional benefit to child benefit. You should also seek more in-depth legal advice than we can provide here.

This question has been answered by Lisa Jones, a Senior Solicitor with GHP Legal.  If you would like to speak to someone about this or any other legal matter it is still possible, and we are doing everything we can to ensure that we continue to offer our high levels of service to our clients.  Where possible, we ask that you communicate with us by phone or email. If you have a new enquiry or for an appointment visit www.ghplegal.com or contact one of our offices: Wrexham 01978 291456, Llangollen 01978 860313, Oswestry 01691 659194