Many families we see come to a meeting with some trepidation. On a regular basis parents start the meeting with ‘I know I should have done this years ago, but I’ve just kept putting it off’.

This blog explores why some families put making a Will and Trust on the back burner and addresses concerns families have.

Unravelling the different elements

There are many factors to consider when making provision for your family and many more when your family includes a disabled or vulnerable loved one.

What is boils down to for many families is, essentially, who will be the new you? How will your loved one be cared for immediately? What will their long-term living arrangements be? What input will others have and what can be done beforehand to ensure people have more input? Understandably, parents find it extremely difficult to consider a future when they are no longer there to care for their children, and this can bring a range of emotions.

Having a Will and Trust in place will not answer all of these questions but ensures the inheritance you have earmarked for your loved one is available to be used for them. All of the families we work with tell us that putting plans in place brings them enormous peace of mind and sense of relief.

What does a Trust cover?

Trustees’ powers relate only to assets in the Trust. Trustees do not have power over finances in the vulnerable beneficiary’s name, their benefits or authority regarding health and welfare decisions for them.  However, the Trustees can use the Trust fund to obtain this authority or pay for specialist advice and advocacy if care or funding issues arises. They can also use the fund for accommodation, top-ups to funded provision and pay for extras enhancing quality of life.

Who to choose as Trustees

We often hear from our clients that they do not want to burden others or do not have any obvious choices when it comes to choosing Trustees – particularly of the same generation as the vulnerable beneficiary.

At the meeting with us, we will look at all possibilities. That could be friend or family, professional Trustees or a combination.  We will also discuss what Trustees have to do, to enable you to decide who is best to act.

It can be useful to have an experienced sounding board for your ideas and concerns.  We will explore with you what is possible, make suggestions you may not have thought of, think about issues and also advise on safeguards.

We will also give you information about the role of the Trustees so that you can speak with your possible Trustees armed with the knowledge about what they will need to do.

Who to choose as Guardians

You can appoint Guardians for your child(ren) if you, or the child’s other parents, were to die before a child is 18. The Guardians will make all the decisions relating to the child, such as where they live, education and medical decisions. Any individual can be a Guardian, and you can appoint more than one to act jointly as Guardians. This must be in writing, and signed and dated, so the easiest way to do this is to appoint Guardians in a Will.

There is further detail in our previous blog about decision making and appointing Guardians.

Things may change

Time moves on, your assets and liabilities will change over the years as will who you would like to be involved in helping your loved ones when you are no longer around. It is also often the case, particularly with younger children, that it is not known what their needs may be in the future.

A key thing to remember through the process is the importance of putting provision in place that matches your current circumstances. Whilst we can future proof your provision as much as possible, we cannot predict the future and trying to plan for every possible scenario is often impractical. However, we encourage families not to delay the process of putting plans for the future in place, as the risk of not doing so far outweighs the process itself. The key is keeping flexibility. Wills can be updated, Trustees can be changed and flexibility can be built into the documents so they can adapt to change in the future.

Our advice to parents

Having a Will and Trust in place certainly brings reassurance and relief to our clients. Stalling, or opting to ‘do nothing’ is not an option due to the impact an inheritance in a vulnerable person’s own name may have.

Starting the process focusses the mind and we will work with you to break down each decision and give you the knowledge to allow you to make informed choices.  We are here to guide you through the process with an expert hand and our experience of helping thousands of families means we understand the potential barriers and emotions that you may be feeling and can support you along the way.

Once you have put in place a Will and Trust, the documents should then be reviewed periodically to ensure they are still relevant. In addition, there may be other matters to consider such as Decision Making which our team will also be able to advise on.  Nonetheless, a Will and Trust is a major piece of the puzzle to have in place for the long-term provision for your disabled or vulnerable loved one.  We haven’t yet met a parent who hasn’t felt positive and been relieved at having done so.

How we can help

As well as helping you put in place Wills and Trusts, we can also advise you on what steps you can take regarding decision making for your loved when you are no longer here. Including what will happen when your child turns 18, and for those with children over 18, guidance on whether your child does or does not have capacity to make a decision, and whether they need a Lasting Power of Attorney or should they apply to the Court of Protection for a Deputyship Order.

If you would like to talk to us about your circumstances and how we can help please contact us, we’d love to hear from you.

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Gina Cucciniello

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