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Leaving money to loved ones with learning difficulties

View profile for Helen Taylor TEP
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Making a Will is always important, but it is even more important when you are making provisions for those with learning difficulties. On the 25th April, I spoke at the Mencap ‘Planning for the Future Seminar’ in Northampton on this subject and it is clear that this issue can affect a vast array of people, often parents but not always.

What are the issues?

Typically, you might consider leaving a gift outright to you loved ones, however, if your son or daughter for example has learning difficulties, this can cause problems. They might not be able to give valid receipt for the money, a costly application to the court of protection might need to be made, a large inheritance might make them susceptible to financial abuse from ‘friends’ and it will likely affect any means-tested benefits that they are entitled to.

It is also important to consider that well-meaning family members may try to help and may unwittingly cause the above issues by leaving outright gifts to your children in their Wills and cause the issues mentioned above.

Can I do anything to overcome them?

Yes, there are provisions that can be made in your Will to help overcome these issues and these frequently involve the use of Discretionary Trusts or Disabled Person’s Trusts. The benefit of using these types of trusts in the right way is that the money you leave can still be used to benefit your loved one, however these methods do this in a way that can help protect the benefits that they are currently entitled to. It also doesn’t expect them to be able to handle large amounts of money themselves, it instead allows you to appoint a Trustee or multiple Trustees, that you trust to make these decisions on their behalf and for their benefit.

There are many important decisions involved in this process and it is a complex area. Therefore I would strongly recommend using a Solicitor who specializes in this area and has the STEP accreditation which offers this guarantee. 

If this is a situation that you are currently in and you are unsure of where to turn for guidance then please do contact me on 01604 828282 to see how I can help. Similarly, the Mencap Trust, a charity who uniquely supports people and families in these situations are always happy to help. For more information about them please visit https://www.mencap.org.uk/.

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