If you pass away without having done a Will, and you leave behind children, your estate may be divided between your spouse and your children.
Nominating children to be recipients of your estate isn’t uncommon for those who have completed a Will.
However, if you don’t have the opportunity to specify how your estate is divided, your children may end up co-owning property with your spouse.
This means the child will be entitled to have control of their inheritance once they turn eighteen years old.
Imagine your 18 year old child having the power and ability to force the sale of the family home, because they were entitled to a portion from your estate.
Without a legal Will in place, there is no legal way to prevent them from spending the money once they have become entitled to it.
There is also no legal way to prevent them from spending money once they have become entitled to it. I think it’s a rare 18 years old that would be sensible enough to properly invest money, particular if they have lost a parent.
If you take the time to do a Will, then you can decide how to divide your estate and nominate how old your children must be before they can have control of their inheritance.
When advising parents about an appropriate age to allow their children to control their inheritance, the advice will be dependent upon a number of factors such as the amount of money involved, the age of the child at the time they are making the will and whether the child is generally sensible and mature. So, there is no right or wrong answer but it is generally advisable for the money to be held until the age of either 21 or 25 years.
Your Will can also give directions about who will hold the inheritance until your child reaches the age you have specified in the will. This person is known as the Trustee.
The trustee has the legal right to pay for expenses on behalf of your child, so they will be able to benefit even if they cannot have control of their inheritance until later.
It is essential to seek professional advice from an experienced wills & estate lawyer to ensure your assets are protected and your wishes followed in the event of your death because everyone’s circumstances are different.
As your children grow and enter their own relationships it is important to review the will to ensure that it continues to accurately reflects your wishes. When you have grandchildren, it is a perfect time to consider whether you need to make any changes to include them as your beneficiaries.
This article was written by Jodie Anderson-Bell, Legal Practice Director of GKS Law. Jodie heads the Wills & Estate Law department and has more than six years’ experience working with GKS Law clients to secure their future.
You can contact Jodie or any of the Wills and Estate team by email on firstname.lastname@example.org or call the office on 07 3284 5093.