2. What are some matters to consider for gifts to various beneficiaries?
Particular Beneficiaries (Minors, Children, Spouses, Executors, Employees & Charities etc)
Minors cannot issue a valid receipt to personal representatives. A valid receipt releases personal representatives from their duty to distribute estate. Therefore, wills typically grant personal representatives the power to obtain a receipt from the minor’s parent or guardian.
Without any contrary intention in the will, the term “child” or “children” are typically interpreted to include both adopted children and illegitimate children (i.e. children who are born to parents who are not married to each other). However, if the testator intends to benefit natural and legitimate children only, they must clearly express this in the will. Also, stepchildren are not automatically included and must be specifically provided for in the will.
A testator may choose to give their spouse either an absolute gift or a life interest in his estate. If the spouse is given an absolute gift, it may be subject to a survivorship clause, which requires the spouse to live longer than the testator by a specified period before they are eligible to receive the gift. Please refer to the section about “Survivorship Clause”.
Unless the executor is a professional executor, serving as an executor is an unpaid position. Therefore, a testator must specify in the will if he wishes to leave the executor a legacy for taking up the role. In that case, a testator must also specify the conditions in which the executor will receive the legacy, e.g. Will the executor only receive the legacy after he has obtained probate and administered the estate?
The testator should specify whether the employee will only receive the legacy if the employee is still in the testator's employment at the date of death.
The testator must check and confirm the name, address and the charitable status of the charity.
If a gift is given to an unincorporated association, all members of that association receive that gift. Therefore, a receipt must be obtained from each member. To prevent such issues, the testator can include a provision in the receipt clause that specifies the receipt should only be given by an individual who appears to be the treasurer or another suitable officer of the organisation.