For many people, their home is their most valuable asset. It comes as no surprise therefore that people often separate this asset in their minds when making a Will from their other assets.
For example, Jack and Jill own their home on the hill along with a small amount of cash. When both Jack and Jill die they want their children to have their home and their grandchildren to have their cash.
Whereas this seems perfectly reasonable, there are a couple of points that Jack and Jill must consider when naming their house on the hill as a specific gift to their children in their Will.
Firstly, Jack and Jill may life for many years after making their Will. Their cash may deplete or their house on the hill may be sold to pay for their care. If Jack and Jill sold their house on the hill and did not change their Wills their children would not receive anything as they would no longer own the house. Life is very unpredictable and therefore Jack and Jill should keep their Wills under regular review, both periodically or after a major life event.
Secondly, when an item is specifically gifted under a Will it is the recipients responsibility to maintain it until such time as it can be sold or transferred to them. Whereas this would not be an issue for small gift such as say, jewellery, it poses practical issues with real property.
It is necessary for a Grant of Representation to be obtained to effect the sale or transfer of a deceased’s property and this process can take many months. In the meantime the utilities and ongoing maintenance must be paid for. This is not an issue if the property is to be sold, the utilities can be settled out of the sale proceeds. If however Jack and Jill’s children wish to keep the house on the hill they must personally meet the liabilities. Their ability to do so should be borne in mind by Jack and Jill when making their Will.
These are just some points to consider when specifically gifting property under a Will.