Having children is a rollercoaster of experience, and one thing is for sure, they swiftly become your absolute focus. Their welfare, their happiness, their childhood becomes a daily part of your planning as a parent. It shouldn’t come as a surprise then, that sometimes longer term plans get shuffled to one side, and continually slip down the to-do list. One task that you should prioritise though, is to write a will.
Will writing may not seem like the most joyous thing to do. Whatever life experience you have, it’s bound to raise memories and trigger difficult conversations. This is exactly why it needs to be done though, so should the unthinkable happen, your children will be secure with provisions in place.
Probate solicitors can handle matters after your days, but if there is no will in place things can become complicated. Below, with some help from those in the know, I’ve listed five reasons why you should write a will once you’ve had children…
1. To Appoint a Legal Guardian
It seems unthinkable, writing this post on a sunny morning, that someone else might one day be raising my children. But with no crystal ball available I cannot guarantee that both myself and Jacob will always be around, and if we’re not, our will determines who can look after our children. This is a hard decision to make, you might have lots of family and friends who would be able and happy to welcome your children into their family unit, or you might feel that there is nobody you can ask. Thinking it through when it is not a pressing concern, and having conversations with those around you, can lead to reassurance though that there will be support for them.
The appointed person or persons will be your children’s legal guardian and have parental responsibility. It sounds blunt, but this could be the difference between your children entering foster care or not. So it’s crucial to pick a person you trust, and also someone your children trust and feel comfortable around.
2. Decide How Your Money is Divided Between Children
If you have more than one child, having a will means you will be able to specifically set out how each of your assets will be divided and what they will receive. Issues can arise where one particular asset might have been promised to one person, yet if a will hasn’t been made, this cannot be guaranteed. This covers any property that you own, from a house to family jewellery, as well as bank and savings accounts, and any life insurance policies you may have taken out. When you write a will, you may also want to consider talking to other members of your family, so that everyone is clear what your intentions are.
3. So Funeral Arrangements Are Set
Making funeral arrangements can be really tough on a family, it will comfort them to know they’re giving you a send-off you’re happy with. In your will, you can add a final wishes letter where you can write out the desires you have for your funeral, such as songs, readings, flowers, burial, and more.
Whilst final wishes do not legally have to be followed, where you are concerned about your children carrying out the job, you can make it easier by putting the arrangements in place.
4. You Can Create a Trust
Often parents would rather their children inherit money once they are older, than suddenly inheriting a large sum when they are not ready or able to make serious financial decisions. This means the money enters their account when they could be considered more mature and ready to handle such an increase in finances.
For this reason, it is possible to create trusts for children with a set age for them to receive monies, depending on when you think they would be old enough to handle such a big responsibility. The most common age parents set trusts at is 18, 21 and 25. Bear in mind that setting up a trust may differ depending on if one parent survives. You don’t want to leave your partner unable to buy shoes for your children because all of your money went into a trust for your children, for example.
Should your child need to access any money you’ve left before the age specified, you can select a trustee to manage the funds. They will be able to make decisions should the funds need to be used early on for your child. Some reasons could include purchasing property, education and other aspects that will benefit the child positively. Once your child reaches the age specified, they will inherit the remaining amount. We decided with our will to have a different trustee and guardian, so that there will be a small team of people helping to support our boys and make decisions with them in the event that we are not able to.
5. Selecting an Estate Executor
If you pass away and your child is deemed to be your next of kin, they could be selected to manage your estate (only where they are over the age of 16). To be appointed an estate executor is a huge responsibility for anyone, and not something that would be at all easy for a young person to handle, especially when they have just lost a parent and are grieving.
To ensure your child does not have to experience this type of stress in the event you pass away, it’s important to set out in your will who will handle your estate. Select someone that you feel can manage a responsibility like this. A trusted sibling, cousin or close friend is ideal. As with guardianship, it is a good idea to have conversations with people about this before making a decision.
Please Be Prepared with a Will for Your Children’s Sake…
It’s understandable that some people choose not to face the concept of death. Culturally I often think that we are not very good at dealing with end of life. Where children are concerned though, it’s vital that provisions are put in place to support them when you are no longer around to do so yourself.
N.B. This post is a collaborative piece, meaning that I have worked with others to prepare it. Please refer to my disclosure page for more information. Please also be advised that this article is for general informational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for advice from a trained legal professional. Be sure to consult a legal professional if you’re seeking advice about setting up your will. I am not liable for risks or issues associated with using or acting upon the information on this site.
Featured image: https://www.pexels.com/photo/man-carrying-a-baby-286625/
Please do not reproduce these images without permission from the source site.