The Use of Effectively Using Will Trusts

In a recent case a trusted Guardian who took responsibility for her friends’ child following their untimely death, has been jailed for carelessly spending huge amounts of her wards inheritance. 

Mrs Watford, 39 made the selfless decision to become a Guardian of a teenage boy after he was orphaned in 2015. However, in addition to taking responsibility of the child, she was also responsible for the boys inheritance. 

Unfortunately, Mrs Watford had frittered away between £30,000 and £60,000 of the boys £125,000 cash inheritance, by treating the money as a family pot, as opposed to boys property, that should have been protected until he turned eighteen.  

It was alleged that the money was spent on regular takeaways, with daily amounts of up to £250 being withdrawn on a regular basis. 

Despite claiming that the money was spent on unavoidable costs needed to maintain the boys property he was set to inherit, the Court found that the misappropriation was serious enough to merit a custodial sentence. 

Mrs Watford was sentenced to three years and two months in prison, after pleading guilty to one case of fraud by abuse of position. 

The estate she was trusted to protect was considerably diminished because of her actions, and her limited means made it impossible to return the money she benefited from. 

Her defence claimed throughout the case that she was poorly educated, and innocently viewed the money as a pot that could be used to benefit the whole family. 

It was argued that the money was never spent solely on herself, apart from the unavoidable trip to the dentist. 

It was held that Mrs Watford failed to adequately understand the terms and the agreement. 

When people like Mrs Watford are unexpectedly catapulted into a position of trust, with out adequate training or understanding, it is not surprising that the defendant was unable to complete her role with complete integrity. 

If the Guardian had been offered adequate training on her responsibilities, or if the parents had placed the estate into a relevant Will Trust until their son was of a mature enough age to inherit, this incident could have been avoided. 

In situations like this, a discretionary trust within the will appointing formal trustees, highlights the importance of providing clear, bespoke advice in these situations. 

If you wish advice on any aspects relating to the above, please do not hesitate to contact us.