If you’re expecting or have recently had a baby, congratulations! It is in equal parts exhausting and exhilarating in the first few months and that’s after all the preparations before the arrival. Much of parenting involves thinking and planning for the future. This includes from thinking about dinner that night to saving for university years ahead. There is one aspect of parenting few of us like to think about; what would happen if you weren’t there to do it? That is why you need to think about Wills – our guide for new parents.
While you might think ‘there are two parents, I’m covered’! However, given how much time you probably spend with your partner, the odds of something happening to both of you at the same time are, unfortunately, greater than you think.
So, while you’re fitting cupboard locks and stair gates and everything else required to keep your child safe, make writing or updating your Will a key part of preparing for your new arrival.
That’s why we’re here to guide you with our article on Wills – our guide for new parents.
What’s in a Will?
Writing a Will isn’t difficult, and it isn’t time consuming, particularly if you use a solicitor to draft it.
You’ll probably spend more time researching car seats than you will thinking about the basic requirements of a Will.
All Wills have the same provisions regarding assets. If you own a property, your house is your ‘non movable’ asset. Everything else is cosidered ‘movable assets’. You’ll have to think about what to do with your house. Then you need to think about any specific ‘bequests’ of assets or money to specific people or organisations. Finally, you need to think about what you want to do with everything else.
If you have children, you should include a guardianship provision in your Will. This allows you to nominate somebody you trust to look after your children should both mum and dad pass away. Usually this will be a relative who knows the child and they’ll be responsible until the child is at least sixteen years old.
If you don’t nominate a guardian, the Local Authority social work department will step in and arrange parenting. Whilst they’ll always prefer to arrange care with a relative, this is not always what happens.
When thinking about a Guardian, it should be somebody who is likely to be alive when the child is sixteen. Your preferred guardian should also be physically and mentally able to look after them. You should definitely have a conversation with whomever you choose because you’ll want to know if they accept the responsibility.
You’ll also want to consider whether you are nominating an individual or a couple. If you can, nominating a substitute in case your first preference dies before you do will be even more robust.
Leaving assets to your children
You may simply want to leave everything to your children. But if they are very young, they’ll need help administering everything, which is where Trusts and Trustees come in.
All property, assets and money you leave to your children will be held in a Trust for them until they reach a specific age you set. This is likely to be an age between sixteen and twenty five. Your Will needs to contain the instructions to set up the Trust and the rules governing it.
You’ll need to appoint Trustees to deal with the administration of the Trust until it passes to your children. Administration could be dealing with a leaky roof on the family home, turning over the engine on your classic car once a month Or, it could be making decisions on stocks and shares or a whole host of different matters that you currently undertake yourself.
Also, remember raising children is expensive. It is reasonable to assume your nominated guardian will require funds from your estate to help. However, this introduces a potential conflict between the needs of the guardian and the inheritance of the child. So, while you will probably want to appoint the guardian a Trustee, you should also consider an independent Trustee to help administer property or money. This could be a solicitor or an accountant.
What happens if I don’t have a Will?
If you are asking this, then first of all, don’t wait any longer. Contact your solicitor today and set up an appointment. Do it now.
If you don’t have a Will, then someone will have to apply to the courts to appoint an Executor. An executor deals with your estate. If your children are under sixteen, they are not eligible to be an executor.
The Courts will decide on your executor. The Local Authority will become involved in appointing a guardian for your children. Whilst they are likely to nominate a relative, it is not always the case. Without your voice being heard through your Will, it is difficult to challenge any decisions made.
As a parent, you’ll do anything to keep your children safe and help them realise their potential. Usually, doing it is fun and rewarding, but occasionally it requires tough or unpleasant decisions. Making a Will isn’t fun, but it is necessary. Don’t put it off. Do it for your children and do it today. As you can see, it’s all very straightforward with our Wills – our guide for new parents. If you would like to discuss making your Will to cater for your new arrival, please call Stacey Parker on 01383 629720 or email Stacey by clicking here.