Online legal Q & A

I have been trying an online legal questions and answers service, the idea being that, by demonstrating my knowledge and helpfulness, I might get a few new clients from this source.

I have to say that I plan to cancel my subsciption soon – the sort of people who use this service are the sort who expect free advice and help all the way, and do not want to commit to a normal solicitor-client relationship. Indeed, many of the cases in the “Other” category simply show how low people can sink: vultures when a relative dies, horrendous neighbours, people trying to evade creditors, etc.

However, once in a while there is a question that is appropriate and restores my faith (a little) as the example below in the “Wills and probate” category –

Q: How would I structure a will such that if I am survived by my children, and they are still minors, that my estate goes to their guardians to contribute to their upkeep; but that if I am not survived by them, then the estate would go to someone else? Have tried an online will service but does not seem to cover this.

A: I am amazed the online service does not cover this – it is pretty fundamental!

Rather than leave your estate to your guardians as such, I suggest you should leave it to “such of my children as survive me and reach the age of [18] years (if more than one, in equal shares) or (failing them) to x”

A couple of points to note –
1: You can specify a higher age than 18 – 21 is fairly common; I would not suggest a higher age than 25 except in very special circumstances
2: If any of your children dies before you leaving children of their own who survive you and reach the age of 18 years, section 33 of the Wills Act provides that your deceased child’s share would be shared equally between those grandchildren. You can make specific provision for this if you want grandchildren to inherit at an older age.

This arrangement means that, until your children reach the specified age to inherit, your executors act as trustees for them, looking after their inheritance. It is therefore important that you choose as executors (you will need at least two) people that you trust to do this properly. Please note that, while the relevant child is under age, the trustees can use part of their expected inheritance to pay for welfare, maintenance, education, etc.

I hope this helps

I am quite pleased with that exchange: even if it does not result in my being instructed to prepare the enquirer’s Will, it should be helpful, and they may go to a solicitor more local to them and find yout that – surprise! – solicitors can be (and often are) helpful and good value for money

Support your local solicitor, I say!


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