Making provision for future generations

Provision for future generations

Making a will is about much more than simply deciding who is to get what after you have died.

Of course, that is a very important aspect of it, and in some cases your will doesn't need to do any more than that.

However, many people choose to regard their will not just as a way to divide their estate, but as a positive way to benefit future generations of their family. Those decisions, the way in which they are reached, and the manner in which they are implemented, are all really important too.

Of course there is no restriction on the people you can benefit, but typically wills are used to benefit, for example, any or all of the following:

  • your own children;
  • your stepchildren;
  • your grandchildren;
  • nieces and nephews;

and so on.

The obvious provision for children and descendants comes in the form of straightforward gifts of cash, or legacies of the residuary estate, property or assets (including sums of money). But your will can also be used to make longer term provision. For example:

  • Grandparents may wish to put money in trust to support their grandchildren’s education.
  • You may wish to stipulate that a person is not to inherit fully until they are 21 or 25 (or perhaps some other age) in the expectation that they will by that time be fully able to manage their affairs responsibly.
  • You can use your will to influence the appointment of guardians. Where there are children under 18, the inheritance that they would receive is automatically placed on trust for them, and can be used to provide for them while they are still under age.
  • You may wish to put property on trust to ensure that it remains a source of income and benefit for a long time.

Sometimes people are able to make such provision during their lifetime, and this can have an advantage – namely that if someone makes a substantial gift more than 7 years before they die, it will not be taken into account when inheritance tax is calculated.

However, for many people, the bulk of their estate is tied up in the family home, and they are unable to take advantage of this. If that applies to you, your will is the best way to ensure that you can make most effective provision for your children and other family.

If you do not leave anything – or perhaps only a small portion of your estate – to close family or dependants, they may have a claim against the estate after your death. For further information, please see our page Can you disinherit family and dependants?