A Will is a document which directs what is to happen to our assets after our death. We set out in our Will who should inherit our assets. These will generally be our spouse or family members. There may be gifts of money or particular assets (e.g. jewellery) to family, friends or charities. We must appoint one or more Executors whose job it is to ensure that the terms of the Will are carried out.
Sometimes, things are a little more complicated. There may be special circumstances where we require continuing control over how our assets are used after our death. For example, we might have a business that needs to be taken over and run, or a child or relative with special needs who will need someone to assist them.
What is generally required in these situations is a Trust Will. This is a Will where we leave some or all of our assets to two or more Trustees who will manage the assets for the benefit of the Beneficiaries. The Trustees become the legal owners of the assets with the obligation to manage them as best they can until it is time to pass them over to the Beneficiaries.
The most common example involves the appointment of two or three trustees (generally trusted family members or friends) to look after the assets of a couple with young children when both parents have passed away. In general they will not be the people looking after the children on a day to day basis. The Trustees will make sure that any money, property or other assets are carefully looked after until the age at which the Will states the children are to receive the assets. They will also (generally) be appointed the guardians (legal parents) of the children and are entrusted with important decisions like education and healthcare.
A trust set up under a Trust Will may continue for a very long time where it has been established that the Trustees are to look after the assets for someone with special needs during their lifetime.
Trustees will generally have the assistance and advice of professionals (Solicitors and Accountants) in administering the Trust. In some cases where there are high value assets, a professional might be one of the Trustees.
Trust Wills need careful drafting to suit the specific circumstances of each situation and we can help you with that. If you need any advice in relation to a Trust Will, please contact Niall Farrell or Evelyn MacKenzie-Smith or use the “Do you have a case?” link at the top of this page for an opinion of your case.