Parents appointing guardians in their wills often ask how the guardians will cope with the financial aspect of bringing up their children. There is no one single answer to this issue as it depends on the specific circumstances of each particular case. However, we’ve set out below some of the ways that this problem can be resolved:
- Following the death of both parents, an inheritance may be held on trust for minor children. Minor children will usually become entitled to the capital at age 18, however, another age may be specified in the will; common ages are 21 or 25 for children to inherit.
Until the children are entitled to the capital, the executors (as trustees) usually have powers to apply the income and in some cases the capital of the estate for the benefit of the children. These powers will normally allow the trustees to pay a child’s expenses (such as school fees for example) directly or to pay funds to a guardian to use for the child’s benefit.
- Those who can afford to do so may decide to leave a gift of money to the guardian(s) conditional upon them actually becoming guardians. This may be a relatively minor amount intended to be simply be an expression of gratitude. Alternatively, it may be a significant gift which is intended, for example, to enable the guardians to extend their home to accommodate the children.
- The parents may include in their wills a power for the trustees to make loans to the guardians. For example, a loan may allow a guardian to buy a bigger house, and could be secured by a charge on the house.
- Parents could decide to write a letter of wishes making it clear how they would like the trustees to use their powers under the will to provide financial support for the children.
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