2010 - 2017
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.
We have already touched on the problems that may arise from second marriages. There is always a balance to be struck between the security of the surviving spouse and the interests of the children from the first marriage.
The best way of protecting the interests of the children is to give the second spouse a life interest in the estate and provide for the capital to revert to the children on the second death. If both parties to the marriage write their wills this way, the interests of their own children will be protected.
Of course, difficulties may arise if the estates of the spouses are of widely varying sizes so that one party to the marriage is more vulnerable to running out of funds. It is possible to allow recourse to capital but that requires sound investment decisions on the part of the trustees so as to avoid conflict between the surviving spouse and the children.
The alternative is to use the discretionary trust mechanism to set up a trust whereby the surviving spouse and children are all beneficiaries and the trustees can allocate funds between them according to the circumstances. Such a trust may continue throughout the life of the surviving spouse or may be terminated earlier.
Where the estate is over the inheritance tax threshold, there is a charge to inheritance tax on every tenth anniversary of the trust coming into being.
It is possible to reduce the impact of this charge by judicious timing of distributions and sound management of the investments.