Define: Younger-Generation Devise

Younger-Generation Devise
Younger-Generation Devise
Quick Summary of Younger-Generation Devise

A younger-generation devise is an alternative provision in a will that designates a descendant of the primary recipient as the recipient if the primary recipient does not survive the testator. This provision, included in the Uniform Probate Code, aims to keep property within the family lineage. It is crucial to understand that a younger-generation devise only becomes effective if the primary recipient is unable to inherit the property. Ultimately, a younger-generation devise allows the testator to provide for their family members and maintain the family’s ownership of the property.

What is the dictionary definition of Younger-Generation Devise?
Dictionary Definition of Younger-Generation Devise

A younger-generation devise occurs when an individual leaves property to someone in their will, but if the recipient dies before them, the property is then passed on to the recipient’s child. For instance, if a person leaves their house to a friend, but if the friend dies before them, the house will then go to the friend’s child. This type of arrangement is known as a younger-generation devise.

Full Definition Of Younger-Generation Devise

In the context of inheritance law, the concept of a “Younger-Generation Devise” pertains to the provision of assets or property through a will or estate plan to beneficiaries who belong to a younger generation than the testator. This often involves grandchildren, great-grandchildren, or other younger relatives. The purpose of such devises can range from ensuring financial security for younger family members to incentivizing educational or professional achievements. This overview delves into the legal intricacies, implications, and considerations surrounding Younger-Generation Devise within the framework of British inheritance law.

Legal Framework

Inheritance law in the United Kingdom is primarily governed by several key statutes and common law principles. The most pertinent laws include the Wills Act 1837, the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975, and the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996. These laws collectively establish the guidelines for creating valid wills, addressing potential challenges, and managing trusts, which are often utilised in younger-generation devises.

Wills and Testamentary Freedom

The cornerstone of British inheritance law is the principle of testamentary freedom, which allows individuals considerable latitude in determining the distribution of their estate upon death. However, this freedom is not absolute and is subject to several constraints designed to protect certain beneficiaries and ensure fairness.

To create a valid will, the testator must meet specific requirements: they must be at least 18 years old and of sound mind, and the will must be in writing, signed by the testator in the presence of two witnesses who also sign the document. A will that meets these criteria can include provisions for younger-generation beneficiaries, specifying the nature and conditions of the devise.

Conditional Devises

A common feature in younger-generation devises is the inclusion of conditions or stipulations that the beneficiary must meet to receive their inheritance. These conditions can range from age-related restrictions (e.g., the beneficiary must reach a certain age) to achievements (e.g., completing a degree). Such conditional devises must be carefully drafted to avoid legal challenges. The conditions must be clear, not contrary to public policy, and not too vague or impossible to fulfil.

Trusts in Younger-Generation Devise

Trusts are a prevalent mechanism in younger-generation devises. They offer a flexible and controlled way to manage and distribute assets over time, ensuring that the beneficiary receives support while potentially protecting the assets from premature dissipation or misuse.

A trust involves three parties: the settlor (the person creating the trust), the trustee (the person or entity managing the trust), and the beneficiary (the person for whom the trust is created). Trusts can be set up in a will (testamentary trusts) or established during the settlor’s lifetime (living trusts). In the context of younger-generation devise, testamentary trusts are more common, becoming effective upon the testator’s death.

Types of Trusts

Several types of trusts can be used in younger-generation devises:

  • Discretionary Trusts: These trusts give trustees significant flexibility in deciding how and when to distribute assets to the beneficiaries. This type of trust is particularly useful when the testator wants to provide ongoing support while considering the beneficiary’s changing circumstances.
  • Bare Trusts: In this simple trust arrangement, the beneficiary is entitled to the trust’s assets outright at a specified age. Until then, the trustee manages the assets on the beneficiary’s behalf.
  • Accumulation and Maintenance Trusts: These trusts are often used for younger beneficiaries, allowing income to accumulate until the beneficiary reaches a certain age, at which point the assets can be distributed for their maintenance, education, or other needs.
  • Life Interest Trusts: These provide a named individual (often a surviving spouse) with the right to income or use of the property during their lifetime, with the remainder going to younger-generation beneficiaries upon their death.

Tax Considerations

Inheritance tax (IHT) implications are a critical aspect of younger-generation devises. In the UK, estates above a certain threshold (£325,000 as of 2023) are subject to IHT at 40%. However, there are various reliefs and exemptions, such as the nil-rate band and the residence nil-rate band, which can reduce the tax burden.

Trusts also have specific tax implications. For example, discretionary trusts are subject to periodic charges (every 10 years) and exit charges when assets are distributed. It is essential to structure trusts and wills in a tax-efficient manner, often requiring professional advice to navigate the complex IHT rules.

Legal Challenges and Disputes

Younger-generation devises can sometimes lead to disputes, particularly when other potential beneficiaries feel unfairly treated or if the conditions of the devise are contentious. The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975 allows certain individuals to challenge a will if they believe it does not make reasonable financial provision for them. This includes spouses, former spouses, children, and individuals who were financially maintained by the deceased.

When disputes arise, they can often be resolved through mediation or, if necessary, litigation. The courts will consider various factors, including the size of the estate, the needs of the claimant, and the intentions of the deceased.

Ethical and Practical Considerations

While the legal framework provides the structure for younger-generation devises, ethical and practical considerations also play a significant role. Testators should communicate their intentions clearly to avoid misunderstandings and family discord. Additionally, they should consider the potential impact on the beneficiaries, ensuring that the inheritance supports their long-term well-being without fostering dependency or undermining their motivation.


The concept of Younger-Generation Devise is a vital component of modern estate planning, reflecting the desire to provide for future generations in a structured and thoughtful manner. British inheritance law offers the tools and frameworks necessary to implement such devises, balancing the testator’s wishes with legal protections for beneficiaries.

By understanding the legal requirements, the role of trusts, tax implications, and potential challenges, individuals can create effective and meaningful provisions for younger-generation beneficiaries. Professional advice is often essential to navigate this complex area, ensuring that the devised assets are managed and distributed in a way that honours the testator’s intentions and supports the beneficiaries’ best interests.

Younger-Generation Devise FAQ'S

A Younger-Generation Devise refers to a legal term used to describe a situation where a person leaves their property or assets to a younger generation, typically their children or grandchildren, in their will or trust.

Yes, you have the freedom to leave your entire estate to a Younger-Generation Devise if you wish. However, it is important to consider the potential impact on other beneficiaries and consult with an attorney to ensure your intentions are properly documented.

There are generally no specific restrictions on who can be named as a Younger-Generation Devise. However, it is important to comply with any applicable laws or regulations regarding inheritance and consult with an attorney to ensure your wishes are legally enforceable.

Yes, like any other provision in a will or trust, a Younger-Generation Devise can be contested. If a beneficiary or interested party believes there are grounds for contesting the provision, they may file a legal challenge. It is advisable to consult with an attorney to understand the potential risks and strategies to minimize the chances of a successful contest.

Yes, you can generally change your Younger-Generation Devise at any time as long as you are mentally competent. It is recommended to consult with an attorney to ensure the changes are properly documented and comply with legal requirements.

While fairness is subjective, a Younger-Generation Devise can potentially be challenged if it is believed to be unfair or discriminatory. However, the burden of proof lies with the challenging party, and they would need to demonstrate valid legal grounds for their claim.

Yes, a Younger-Generation Devise can be subject to inheritance or estate taxes, depending on the jurisdiction and the value of the assets being transferred. It is advisable to consult with a tax professional or attorney to understand the potential tax implications.

Yes, a Younger-Generation Devise can be revoked if the testator (the person making the will) chooses to do so. Revocation can be done through a formal process, such as creating a new will or codicil, or by physically destroying the existing will with the intention of revoking it.

Yes, if it can be proven that the testator lacked the mental capacity to understand the implications of their Younger-Generation Devise at the time of making the will, it can be challenged. It is important to consult with an attorney to understand the legal requirements for proving lack of mental capacity.

Yes, if it can be proven that the testator was unduly influenced by another person to include or exclude a Younger-Generation Devise, it can be contested. Undue influence refers to situations where someone exerts pressure or manipulates the testator’s decision-making process. It is advisable to consult with an attorney to understand the legal requirements for proving undue influence.

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This site contains general legal information but does not constitute professional legal advice for your particular situation. Persuing this glossary does not create an attorney-client or legal adviser relationship. If you have specific questions, please consult a qualified attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

This glossary post was last updated: 9th June 2024.

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