Growth in clauses in wills

DIY will writing services have made it easier for people to include ‘wacky’ terms in their wills, according to an article in the Daily Mail this week.

The paper reports that there has been a rise in clauses added to wills to control what happens to a person’s estate after they die. On, in one in ten wills, someone is deliberately left out, usually estranged children but it can also apply to current wives and husbands too.

Amelia Murray writes that legal firms have seen a rise in ‘trust clauses’, or conditions specifying when an inheritance is paid, as parents and grandparents try to control their wealth from beyond the grave.

Soaring property prices and rise in second and third marriages

The experts say the trend is fuelled by soaring property prices, longer life expectations and the rise in second and third marriages.

Many conditions are ones you might expect, such as parents stating an inheritance will only be given if it is spent on property or education, or their children can only receive their inheritance once they reach a certain age.

Such a clause is known as a bare trust and is one of the most common.

Money repaid to the estate

Carl Christensen, from the company, says that he often sees people leaving their wealth or property to their surviving spouse, but they specify that the money must be repaid to the estate if the surviving spouse remarries or lives with another partner.

But other stipulations can be more unusual. A recent will his company dealt with included a clause where no inheritance would be given to four grandchildren until they were baptised.

The estate would provide them with £20,000 each, but not all the grandchildren are yet baptised and nor are they keen on the prospect.

Clauses relating to children

While the rise in DIY will-writing services has made it easier for people to include more unusual clauses, solicitors say there is also a growing trend for more traditional conditions, particularly those relating to children.

Ashleigh Kelly, from Slater Heelis Solicitors, told the Daily Mail that parents often felt it was important for their children to be ready to receive large sums of money and be able to manage it sensibly and effectively.

Typically, when parents choose to delay their children’s inheritance, they allow them the money once those children are 21 or 25 but there are cases when the age stipulated is much older or when the beneficiaries achieve life goals, such as buying a home, setting up a business and getting married.

Legacies are also often left for friends and neighbours provided those people look after the testator’s pet.


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