What is a right to reside/occupy clause in a will?

What does ‘right to reside’ mean and how can you include it in your will?

With the cost of living crisis hitting many in the UK, we are seeing more and more will people requesting to include a right to reside clause in their will. 

If you are wondering what ‘right to reside’ means and what’s involved or considering including this clause in your will, then this guide will help you.

What is a right to reside (also known as a right to occupy) clause?

By including a right to reside clause in your will, you are specifying that you give someone the right to live/reside in one of your properties. 

You can specify within this clause if this arrangement will be for a set period of time, such as for the rest of the person’s life.

A key benefit of using a right to reside clause in your will rather than just leaving your property as part of your estate to be distributed is that you can specify what happens to the property after the person has passed away or decides to no longer live there. 

You can also include details about who will be responsible for household costs such as energy bills and council tax.

When would you want to include a right to reside clause in your will?

A common scenario where we see a right to reside/right to occupy being used is if you have children but currently have a partner you want to be able to live in the home if you die.  

If you solely own the home but want your children to be the ultimate beneficiaries of the home, then you could give your partner a right to occupy but have the peace of mind that the property will be passed to your children when your partner dies.

Another example is if you own the home jointly with a partner but have children from a previous relationship you want to benefit. If the house is owned jointly, it needs to be owned as tenants in common to be able to benefit from a right of occupation.  

If you make a trust will regarding a property but then still own the home as joint tenants then the home will pass to the surviving owner outright regardless of what is put in the Will.

How do right to reside/right to occupy clauses work?

As in most cases where a right to reside clause is used and in place for a set period of time, a trust is created from the will. The trust will specify the trustees who will be responsible for overseeing that the conditions of the trust are followed.

When we assist you in creating your will, it may be likely that we advise you to state that your property is put into trust, which is then legally governed by the rules you choose to include. This means that the beneficiaries of your property cannot sell it until the conditions of the trust are met. This is due to the fact that the trust owns the property and not the beneficiaries whilst the trust is active.

Once the conditions of the trust are fulfilled, the trust can then sell the property and the funds raised from the sale can be distributed to the beneficiaries in line with the wishes included in your will.

It’s important to get trusts in wills right and they can be complicated to set up. If you think that your own situation may require a trust to be set up as part of your will, it’s worth speaking to us, we can discuss your requirements and provide essential advice on how best to accommodate your wishes, whilst also making sure your will and trust are fit for purpose.

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