The desire to make provision for your children is often the factor that first motivates people to start writing a Will. While many points are covered in various blogs, giving gifts to children raises a few additional points to consider.
Leaving Gifts to your Own Children Leaving Gifts to Other Children How to Gift? - By Name - By Description - Age Restrictions
Leaving Gifts to your Own Children
If you are leaving a gift 'to my children' in your Will, it must be 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.
Leaving Gifts to Other Children
At times, you may also wish to leave gifts to other children, such as your grandchildren, godchildren or nieces and nephews. It is often easier to name these children individually instead of doing it as an agglomeration.
How to Gift?
As obvious as it seems, if you want to make a gift in your Will to a child, you can do so by referring specifically to the child by name. For example, ‘I give $25,000 to my daughter Anna 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.
If you want to leave a legacy (a sum of money or a particular item) or your residuary estate to your children, there may be circumstances whereby you may not want to name them individually in your Will. Instead, you can use general words so that no child is named specifically and children born in the future are also included without the need to amend your will. For example, ‘I give $25,000 to each of my children’.
Here, it is important to understand who is included in the term ‘children’ for the purposes of a Will. Does it include adopted children, step-children and other children? The best way of avoiding uncertainty is, of course, for your Will to specify exactly who is included in the definition of children. But if there isn’t a definition, applicable law gives us the answer, and most legal systems have adapted to treat all children equally.
It is possible to exclude certain categories from the definition of children in your Will, but this is becoming less common. Bear in mind that such disposition might not be enforceable in certain countries where all children must be treated equally or where children cannot be disinherited completely.
Additionally, step-children are not automatically included within the meaning of children in a Will unless the step-parent has legally adopted the child or the Will specifically states that they are included.
In some countries/states, there is an age restriction on certain types of gifts. For instance, a minor of age cannot own property, so if you would like to leave property to them in our Will, you may need to use a trust or rely on their legal guardian to administer the property. If you are leaving a legacy, you may also specify that the beneficiary should not receive the legacy until they reach a certain age or fulfil a reasonable condition such as marriage or birth of a child.
A personal representative can be appointed to receive a gift left to a minor of age. It is sensible to make specific provision for that in your Will if you do not want to set up a trust for the intended beneficiaries who are minors. However, you should ensure that the appointed personal representative is reliable and is able to act based on your wishes.
Providing for your children in a Will and updating your Will regularly is the very first step, and it’s an important one. But more importantly, you should register your updated Will and store it in a safe place. liteWill lets you register your Will and store an electronic copy of your Will. Otherwise, all the good work that you have done becomes irrelevant if your person of confidence is not able to find your Will in a timely manner. ‘A Will that is not registered is like a Will that does not exist’.
This portion of the website is for information only. The statements and opinions are the expression of their author, not of liteWill, and have not been evaluated for accuracy, completeness or changes in the law. Information contained in this article is not a substitute for tax or legal advice.
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