Minor Children

By Stan Taylor Written on:

Want to make a start on your will?

Making a will is simple

Making a Will is not about wealth it is about making sure that what you want to happen to your estate does happen. It gives you the opportunity to specify such things as who will administer your estate, who will care for your children and who will receive specific items of your property.

There is a difficulty with leaving money to minor children which is that they cannot give a valid receipt until they are 18. You must, therefore, choose between including a provision that your executors may give the money to the parents and leaving the money in trust until a certain age.

In a home-made will, trusts are best avoided although you can write a simple gift to a minor child as 'I give �5000 to my godson Fred Jones on attaining the age of 18 years.' Do not attempt to set up a complicated trust arrangement. It is a recipe for disaster.

The worst example of a home-made will I have encountered was an attempt to set up a discretionary trust coupled with various legacies and a separate trust of a different part of the estate. The most obvious difficulty was that the discretionary trust had only one beneficiary but the other provisions were complicated and muddled to such an extent that the case proved very lucrative for the lawyers.

A further refinement is that unless you specify that the gift carries the intermediate income, Fred does not get any interest on the funds even if he is a baby when you die.

In contrast, pecuniary legacies to your own children do carry the income as of right.

If you leave your residuary estate to minor children, then the trustees will have to invest the funds until the children reach the specified age. This will be 18 unless you state that they are to receive their money at a later age. The trustees will need to consider the investments carefully in order to comply with their responsibilities under the Trustee Act 2000.

Usually a balance will need to be struck between providing for income and ensuring an element of capital growth. Residuary gifts do include income arising from investment of the capital.

If your estate is likely to be of a fair size you may be well advised to consider postponing to either 21 or 25 the age when your children receive the money.

The Trustee Act 1925 empowers trustees to release funds for the 'maintenance education or advancement of the beneficiary' so money can be made available for such things as university fees or driving lessons.

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see: Making a will - The Law Society. Please note that will making differs in Scotland and this website currently deals with English laFree Will download


Perhaps you might consider taking legal advice from a solicitor about making a will if any of the following apply to your circumstances:


  1. A number of people could make a claim on your estate when you pass away because they depend on yourself financially
  2. You want to include a trust in your will (perhaps to provide for children, to save tax, or simply protect your assets in some way after you become deceased)
  3. Your physical and permanent home is not in the UK and / or you are not a British citizen
  4. You live here in the UK but you have additional property abroad
  5. You own all or part of a UK business.

see: Making a will - The Law Society. Please note that will making differs in Scotland and this website currently deals with English law.

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