Vulnerable Person’s Trusts: What are they?

Not everyone is in a position to manage their own finances. Those with learning difficulties might not understand the value of money, for example. In this blog, we talk about how you can protect a vulnerable beneficiary's inheritance.

When you write your Will, you leave all of your possessions (known as assets) to your loved ones (known as your beneficiaries). Your assets then become your beneficiaries’ assets. But what happens if one of your beneficiaries isn’t in a position to manage their own finances?

Say, for example, you have a child with learning difficulties. You’re planning on leaving them a £200,000 inheritance. Would you trust your child with unrestricted access to £200,000? Are you confident that they’d use it wisely? That they wouldn’t be taken advantage of?

Everyone is different, don’t get me wrong. Maybe they would be sensible. Maybe they’d invest it, or save it, or budget it efficiently. Or maybe they wouldn’t. Maybe it would last a week before being spent on Match Attax. Maybe they’d fall for a romance scam and give it all away.

The point I’m trying to make is this: not everyone is able to manage their own finances, especially if they’re disabled or vulnerable. But, with forward thinking and planning, you can put steps in place to make sure that your vulnerable child is protected in the future. I’m talking about setting up a Vulnerable Person’s Trust.

A young boy, wearing noise-cancelling headphones, sat on his bed on an iPad, probably reading this blog about a Vulnerable Person's Trust!

What is a Vulnerable Person’s Trust?

A Vulnerable Person’s Trust is the perfect way to protect a vulnerable beneficiary’s assets.

Think of a Trust as a treasure chest. Rather than leaving a vulnerable beneficiary their inheritance directly in your Will, meaning they’d receive it as a lump sum, you lock it away in a Trust. Although the assets are reserved for the beneficiary, their access to it is guarded.

When you set up the Trust, you name at least two Trustees to manage it. The Trustees basically hold the key to the Trust. The beneficiary can’t access any of the assets held within the Trust without going through the Trustees first. The Trustees release the assets as and when the beneficiary needs them.

You can leave a set of wishes detailing exactly how you’d like the Trustees to act and in which situations you’d like them to release funds to the beneficiary.

I should add a disclaimer here – if you leave a set of wishes, it isn’t legally binding. The Trustees are under no legal obligation to follow it and are free to use their own discretion instead. Don’t worry too much about this though – Trustees can only release the assets for the use of the beneficiary. They can’t access the assets for themselves, and obviously you would only ever name Trustees who you know have the beneficiary’s best interests at heart.

A Vulnerable Person’s Trust, then, allows the beneficiary to benefit from their inheritance but removes the risk of it being squandered or lost. The Trustees can make sure that it’s kept safe and used wisely.

A young girl, with special needs, watching excitedly as her mother blows bubbles. She is strapped into a wheelchair - for the vulnerable person's trust blog.

Are there any other benefits to a Vulnerable Person’s Trust?

Many vulnerable people qualify for benefits. If you leave them a large sum of money in your Will, their means-tested benefits entitlement will likely be affected.

Money left in a Trust, though, doesn’t form part of your beneficiary’s assets. They don’t technically own them – the Trust does. That means that the vulnerable beneficiary’s means-tested benefits aren’t affected. They’re still fully entitled to the same benefit allowance as they would be before the Trust was formed.

Who qualifies for a Vulnerable Person’s Trust?

These Trusts are made specifically for vulnerable or disabled beneficiaries.

Anyone under the age of 18 whose parent has died qualifies as a vulnerable beneficiary, as does anyone eligible for:

  • Adult Disability Payment
  • Armed Forces Independence Payment
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Child Disability Payment
  • Constant Attendance Allowance
  • Disability Living Allowance for adults or children (either the care component at the highest or middle rate, or the mobility component at the higher rate)
  • Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit
  • Personal Independence Payment

They only need to be eligible – they don’t need to be currently receiving the benefit or allowance to qualify. Someone who is unable to manage their finances because of a mental health condition, as covered in the Mental Health Act 1983, may also be classed as vulnerable and be eligible for the Vulnerable Person’s Trust.

A young child in a wheelchair. For the vulnerable person's trust blog.

If you have a vulnerable child or loved one, especially one who qualifies for means-tested benefits, why wouldn’t you set up a Vulnerable Person’s Trust? They’re the perfect way to protect your child’s future and make sure that their inheritance is safe.

If you’ve realised that a Vulnerable Person’s Trust is perfect for your situation, get in touch with us today for a no-obligation discussion with one of our experts. We’ll be able to talk to you about all the ins-and-outs and work with you to see the best choice for you.

Visit us at Vital Documents, ring us on +44 (0)330 229 0331, drop us an email at hello@vitaldocuments.co.uk or arrange a call with us! We’re more than happy to help you!

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Declan Ramsden
Declan Ramsden

Declan is a Content Creator at Vital Documents! He studied English Literature for 4 years before joining the company. Outside of work, he enjoys listening to retro music and reading classic novels – particularly Charles Dickens!

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