Gifts to children

Can children inherit property?

The desire to make provision for your children is often the factor that first motivates people to start making a will. While many of the points covered in our Making a will section also apply, giving gifts to children raises a few additional points to consider.

It is important to be aware of the age restrictions on certain types of gifts. A child under the age of 18 cannot own property, so if you would like to leave property to them in your will you will need to use a trust.

Leaving gifts to your own children

If you leave a gift 'to my children' in your will, it is important that it is clear who is included in the term 'children'. This can be particularly important if you have step-children or children with more than one partner. Our page Providing for your children in a will explains in detail who is automatically included by a gift to 'children' and what to do if you would like to include a wider range of people.

The mechanism for leaving property to a minor is explained further in Providing for your children in a will, and more information on trusts generally is available on our Will trusts page.

Leaving gifts to other children

Finally, you may also wish to leave gifts to other children, such as your grandchildren, godchildren, or nieces and nephews. It may sometimes be easier to name these children individually, for example 'I give £10,000 to my nephew John Smith'. This avoids many of the issues associated with giving gifts using the phrase 'children', as it is instantly clear who you intend the gift to go to. However, there are still some additional considerations to be aware of, such as:

  • making the most of your inheritance tax nil-rate band; and
  • allowing your beneficiaries’ children to inherit gifts through a substitution clause.

Both of these issues are explored further in our Providing for other children in a will page.

(If a term is in bold, that means it's in our Glossary.)