There are a number of Trusts that can be used either in your Will or set up during your lifetime to protect your assets. Having a Discretionary Trust in your Will means assets can be directed into it on your death for the potential benefit of any number of beneficiaries you choose.
Our bespoke specialist wills normally contain a Discretionary Trust to enable assets to be directed into it on your death for the potential benefit of any number of beneficiaries you choose.
Your estate can be paid in any amounts to any of the potential beneficiaries you select, but at the trustees’ discretion. This means that none of the beneficiaries have an absolute right to benefit from the trust.
You would provide instructions to your Trustees via a Letter of Wishes, a confidential letter which only they would see to ensure that your wishes are carried out.
Such trusts are extremely useful where a beneficiary has an impending divorce, as the trust can protect their inheritance from being part of a divorce settlement. Similarly if a beneficiary is likely to be made bankrupt then the trust can protect their inheritance until such time as the bankrupt person has been discharged.
Where a beneficiary is in receipt of means-tested benefits the trust can protect their inheritance from being assessed as part of their entitlement to benefits.
Where a beneficiary is disabled a Disabled Discretionary Trust may be more appropriate. A more straightforward use for a Discretionary Trust could be where you make future gifts to, for example your children, during your lifetime and so are unsure in what proportions you might want your estate to pass, to each of them on your death. Perhaps you would like to give your trustees flexibility to make those decisions at the time by taking into account your Letter of Wishes you write to them.
Another type of Discretionary Trust may be useful to mitigate inheritance tax where a couple are unmarried and do not have the more favourable tax position that married couples and civil partners do.
Wills aren’t just there to deal with situations on death.
A living will (also known as Advanced Directive in Scotland and Advanced Decision in England) is a document which sets out the future medical wishes of an individual should they become terminally ill or require medical treatment at a time when they do not have the full mental capacity to make those relevant decisions.
The term ‘Living Will’ can be divided into two categories, Advanced Statement and an Advanced Decision. An Advanced Statement is purely informative and must be fully respected by healthcare professionals, it outlines the extent of medical intervention that the individual would like whereas an Advanced Decision is legally binding and details the individual’s right to refuse any form of treatment from antibiotic medication to intravenous feeding and resuscitation.
Remember, if you’ve made a living will it is a good idea to inform your next of kin of your wishes and let them know where this document is kept.
In England, Wales and Scotland a Living Will is considered to be a legally binding document which must be respected by all medical professionals. However, in Northern Ireland this is not yet the case.
Many people view Living Wills as a method which empowers individuals by enabling them to take control of any medical intervention whilst they are in sound mind, alternatively the health care professionals would look to close family or friends to make those decisions at what is already a traumatic time.
Living Wills can be particularly useful if strong opinions are held with regard to certain treatments due to personal or religious beliefs such as a Jehovah Witness not wanting a blood transfusion for example.
There are 4 types of living will:-