If a member of your family has a disability, you need to think carefully about how you provide for that relative in the event of your death.
If you leave a gift, or a share of your estate, to a person who does not have the capacity to manage their own finances, there are three potential consequences that you need to be aware of:
1. The person may lose their right to their means tested benefits (such as employment and support allowance) or means tested care and support provided by the local authority, because of the money they have inherited.
This may mean the person has to spend their inheritance on care or daily living, until the level of their savings entitles them to state support once again.
2. The person may become vulnerable to the attention of financial predators – “new best friends” – eager to help them spend their inheritance.
3. The person may not be able to manage their inheritance. They may spend it wastefully or unwisely, or an application to the Court of Protection may become necessary – for the appointment of a financial deputy to manage the money for them.
Our advice is to consider making a will that sets up a trust for any relative with a disability. In the event of your death, their inheritance then passes into the control of the trustees, who can decide how to use it for the benefit of your relative – avoiding the problems outlined above.
We believe the most important consideration in taking such a step is the choice of trustee. Trustees can be other family members or friends. Sometimes it is appropriate to appoint professional trustees.
If you have a child or grandchild with a disability, and need advice on making a will which both benefits and protects them in the event of your death, please get in touch.