'Young family' will: to spouse or partner, gift over to children's trust

This family will has been designed for parents of young children. It could also be used by a grandparent leaving their estate to an adult son or daughter with a young family. The effect of the will is simple: the estate passes entirely to one person or into a discretionary trust for young children if the beneficiary does not succeed you by a certain number of days. Also included with the template are guidance notes, explaining clearly how to edit the template and how to sign the will correctly, and a short example letter of intent to your executors or trustees.
Suitable for use in: England & Wales
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About this document

Foremost, this is a 'family will' - a will for the parents of young children. After specific gifts of possessions and money, the entire estate passes to your husband, wife or partner (or someone else such as an adult child). If that person does not survive you, then the will appoints guardians and puts your estate into a discretionary trust for the benefit of your children (or another group of people such as your grandchildren).

Use of a discretionary trust rather than a standard trust has a number of advantages:

  • entitlements can be rearranged within 2 years, allowing post death tax planning;
  • allocation does not have to be on an even basis - some beneficiaries could be given a greater share than others;
  • trustees have discretion (which you can guide in a letter of intent) as to how to use the estate. For example, you could direct that it should be used to help support children who want to go to university;
  • benefit can be maintained without giving ownership in situations where ownership could erode value. For example, your share of a family business could be left in a discretionary trust so that your children only become shareholders (controlling how the business is run) once they have sufficient experience.
  • Note though that many of the tax benefits of discretionary trusts have now been removed.

Who should use this template?

The creation of a discretionary trust if the main beneficiary fails to survive the testator makes this family will template suitable for:

  • parents of young families, who want to leave the estate to their spouse or partner (or their young children if their spouse or partner does not survive them);
  • grandparents who wish to leave their estate to an only child (or young grandchildren if the child does not survive them).

This template is suitable for a man or for a woman - it isn't gender specific. We follow normal, modern legal convention of using the masculine form of a word (e.g. testator) regardless of the gender of the person.

This will template can be used for basic inheritance tax planning (largely as illustrated by HM Revenue and Customs), but we do not provide guidance on the subject. If the value of your estate could exceed the nil rate bands (NRB), then you might like to seek advice from a qualified tax specialist before signing your will.

The standard NRB in 2017/18 remains £325,000, with an additional band of £100,000 when a residence is passed on to a direct descendant. This additional band for homes incrementally increases by £25,000 reach year to £175,000 in 2020/21.

The law in this will

The law on wills is varied but precise. This will provides flexibility within that precise legal framework. The Net Lawman trust powers in this document free the trustees from some of the bonds of the Trustee Act 2001 that are unsuitable for trusts managed within your family and by professional advisers.

The law on wills can seem complicated. We have prepared a number of short articles to explain the more difficult legal concepts. You may like to read some of our articles on writing a will by yourself.

When to use this will

You can write a will at any time in your life. Most people consider a new will when their financial circumstances change, or when relationships change. The Law Society advise that you review you will every five years, and that you make a new will after a major life change such as having a child, marriage, separation or divorce. It is possible to change a will without making a new one, but a new one is usually the preferable option.

Document features and contents

  • Revocation of all earlier wills
  • Appointment of executors and trustees
  • Appointment of guardians for children
  • Legacies (gifts of money)
  • Bequests (gifts of possessions)
  • Instruction to executors to gather in assets
  • Gift of the residual estate to one 'primary' beneficiary
  • Gift over to discretionary trust for another group of beneficiaries if the primary beneficiary does not survive you by more than a given time
  • Options for small bequests and legacies to children without involving a trust
  • Option to treat past gifts as included or excluded
  • Payments to executor(s)
  • Warning to executors on valuations
  • Alternative wishes for burial / cremation / use of your body for advancement of science
  • Signatures and witnesses
  • Example letter of intent

This document was written by a solicitor for Net Lawman. It complies with current English law.

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