What happens if a beneficiary of a will is under 18?
Posted on 9th June 2021
Our expert Wills and Probate solicitors discuss the legality behind naming a minor as a beneficiary on a will.
The majority of parents wish to name their children as the beneficiary of their wills after they have died. Still, for adults who have wills drafted and whose children are still under the age of eighteen, this could require further action and clarification. In this post, our expert wills and probate solicitors will run through what it means to set up a beneficiary of your will, and what the process is for naming a minor as a beneficiary.
What rights does the beneficiary of a will have?
A beneficiary is, simply put, somebody who has been named to inherit money, land, property, or other gifts in a person’s will. This only becomes effective after the person has died, meaning that their written will has to be enacted. Will beneficiaries are entitled to be told of their naming in the will, and have legal rights to their share of the will after the estate has been fully administered.
Can I name a minor as a beneficiary of my will?
It is always best to get your will in order while you are still healthy, and have the mental capacity to do so properly and carefully. While writing your will, no matter what age you are it is understandable that you will want to include your children in it. You may even have written your will before having children, and now need to alter it to include them.
It is perfectly okay to name a minor as a beneficiary in your estate, but the process is not the same as naming another adult, as more provisions need to be made. When naming a minor, it is important to remember that, should you pass away, they will not be entitled to their share of the estate, or other gift in the will, until they are eighteen years of age. This rule is in place as children under the age of eighteen are not deemed to have the mental capacity or maturity to accept gifts from wills.
Until this time, the testator, or the person who is making the will for themselves, must decide upon a ‘trustee’ or multiple trustees to look after the assets or money. This is known as the estate being ‘held on trust’.
What role does a trustee play in the process?
When held on trust, the chosen trustee essentially has temporary control of the money until the beneficiary reaches adulthood. It is not uncommon for the testator of the will to leave a ‘letter of wishes’, or something resembling this, to offer guidance on how the wish for the money to be held until this point. Many parents offer advice on whether the money should be invested in a certain way, or used in certain ways to help the beneficiary, before they have legal capabilities of making the decision for themselves.
Here at MG Legal, we would always advise you to establish a trustee, or at least take the time to have one in mind, before drafting your will. It will normally be a named or chosen guardian who you, as a parent, would trust with looking after your child or children for you. This is because you must also trust the person to save, or use, the money as you specify in a way that will best help the child and ensure that it is in the best condition when they reach the age of eighteen. If you have already written your will, and wish to either add in a trustee, or change a chosen trustee, get in touch with out experts wills solicitors today to discuss the matter, here.
What is the legal process, and how can MG Legal help?
The legal process for setting up a minor as a beneficiary to your estate in your will requires some additional action. Most written wills will include STEP Standard Provisions, and if you choose to enlist MG Legal to help with the drafting of your will then we will ensure that this is all done correctly. These provisions give permission to trustees to use powers of advancement if necessary to prolong the terms under which the money or gift is held in trust. If this is not the case, then the beneficiary will automatically be entitled to their share of the estate as soon as they reach eighteen.
If you want to discuss making or updating a Will, applications for probate after your loved one has died, or whether you can dispute a Will, contact our team at your local office in Lancaster, Longridge, or Garstang for the Preston area. We can discuss your matter with you and confirm our legal fees for assisting you.
Alternatively, email email@example.com and a member of the team will contact you within one working hour to discuss your enquiry.
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