Use conditions in your Will wisely or risk them failing

August 30, 2018

Conditions in Wills can be pretty handy, if used correctly. For example, you might want to ensure someone looks after a vulnerable member of your family. Sounds very useful.

 

There are a few ways in which you work conditions into your Will. Firstly, you could set up a life interest, which allows a beneficiary to benefit from interest earned on an investment, or rental income on a property with the condition that they don’t sell and that the gift passes to another beneficiary when they die.

 

Another way might be to write a gift into trust. This way a trustee is appointed, who then distributes the property according to the conditions laid out in your Will, for example the person doesn’t inherit until they reach the age of 25. This is quite common and after all it’s not a bad idea to wait a little longer than the tender age of 18. But then what if that person is very mature and could do with the money earlier?

 

Alternatively, you could tack a condition onto the gift by writing something like, “To Bob I give my house in the country on condition that (describe the condition).

 

Whilst conditions and stipulations in Wills can be useful if you want a bit more say on what happens after you’re no longer here, you’d better make sure you think them through very carefully, otherwise they can be fraught with trouble and can lead to the Will being challenged.

 

Some particularly whacky conditions include examples like Henry Budd, who in 1862 left his two sons £200,000 each on condition that neither of them grew a moustache. It seems moustaches were rather unpopular at the time because in 1869 Matthias Flemming left his employees £10 each, however those with moustaches were only to receive £5. By far my favourite was Edith S of Walsall who left £50,000 to each of her children on condition that their inheritance was not to be spent on “slow horses and fast women and only a very small amount on booze” What a spoil sport!

 

Conditions that might be voided include things like making a gift conditional on the beneficiary divorcing their spouse (just when you thought you’d found a way to get shot of that awful daughter in law). Thankfully, requiring someone to lead a life of celibacy will end up with the condition being voided, as would making a gift conditional on breaking the law. Funnily enough, requiring the beneficiary to keep on the right side of the law would end up being voided too.

 

If a condition is voided, unless the beneficiary has already received the gift, it’s deemed to have failed and therefore falls into the estate residue and is distributed under the laws of intestacy (ie where there is no Will) With that in mind, be sure to avoid unreasonable conditions onto gifts and try to leave out the whacky stuff.

 

This information provided in this article is not intended to constitute legal advice and each relationship breakdown requires careful consideration in our view by a fully qualified Solicitor before decisions are made and before you embark on a certain course of action.

 

Nino Cuffaro

Penn Chambers Solicitors
0207 183 1485

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