Legal expert Lianne Lodge comments on the importance of having a detailed Will when children are concerned following the unexpected death of Whitney Houston.
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an associate with leading legal, financial and property specialists Pagan Osborne, said:
“Whitney Houston’s unexpected death came as a shock to many and highlights the importance of having an up-to-date Will, particularly if you have children and dependents. Reports suggest Whitney Houston has provided for her daughter in her Will but is staggering her daughter’s access to her inheritance which is a sensible move.
“In Scotland, children are entitled to receive an inheritance at the tender age of 16. This may be vast sums of money, alien to a teenager. Bearing in mind this money is to support them in setting up for adult life and offer the financial backing you as a parent (or perhaps grandparent) would have provided, then it is often advisable to put conditions on the inheritance ensuring it is held in trust for them until they reach a more mature age where they might be better placed to manage the funds.
“I advise my clients to draft such a clause into their Wills and some may choose age 18, 21 or even 25. That does not mean a child would be left bereft if you died before they reached that age.
“In a Will, trustees can be appointed to manage the funds on behalf of the child or children. These can be used for their benefit before they reach the specified age through the trustee, for instance to pay for education fees or a deposit for a first home but ultimately the child is not in charge of the purse strings. For example, if the child needed a car the trustees could purchase for them whereas a young person left to their own devices may go for a top of the range supercar rather than something ultimately safer and more sensible.
“It is important to take advice as there may be tax consequences in setting up such a trust in a Will and it is important to fully understand all options and weigh them up. Setting a condition on the age of inheritance does allow control to be retained and provides children with a degree of guidance even if it is after your death.”