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Why Every Parent Needs a Will

Who will look after your children if you die? Strangers?

Millions of children across the United Kingdom will be handcrafting cards and splashing their spends on priceless gifts for their mum ahead of Mother’s Day this Sunday. Other’s won’t be so privileged.

In 2015, it was estimated that 23,600 parents died in the UK, leaving behind dependent children under the age of 18 – that’s one parent every twenty-two minutes! More shocking being that less than one half of parents living in the UK have a will in place.

For parent’s, making a will is the single most important thing you can do:

Confronting the truth

If both you and your spouse were to die without appointing a guardian for your children, then your bereaved children will become the responsibility of the court. This may mean your children won’t end up with a guardian of your choosing. And, perhaps even worse, until the court appoints a guardian, your children may be taken into care. Although a scary thought, it’s one that cannot be ignored.

In addition, without a will in place your children will only be entitled to inherit if your estate is worth more than £250,000, or if your spouse also passed.

Legal complications can be avoided by simply appointing a guardian in your will. When a guardian has been appointed, responsibility for the children’s care is passed immediately on the death of the last surviving parent to the guardian. As the guardian is likely to be an individual who has previously agreed upon the act of guardianship, the person will likely be someone your children knows and trusts.

Choosing a guardian

Although important, naming a guardian may be a daunting task as not only do you have to decide on who you trust, you and your spouse have to agree on the same person or persons. We advise that you both sit down together and run through a list of questions about each of the people you’re considering.

Things to consider

  • How old are they?
  • Are they in a stable relationship?
  • Are they healthy?
  • Are they financially stable?
  • Do they have children? Is that a good thing?
  • Do they live nearby? Is remaining close to your hometown a priority?
  • Do they share the same values and views on parenting?

Once you have agreed on a person or persons, talk to your choice to ensure he or she is prepared to take on this role. We also advise to have an alternative candidate if circumstances change and your first choice is no longer up to the task.

Considering a trustee

It may be a contentious decision to allow your child’s guardian to handle your finances, but if the person isn’t particularly good with money, a trustee can be appointed. A trustee’s duty is to be responsible for looking after your money and assets on behalf of your children until they reach eighteen or the age which you outline on your will.

You can include a request in your will for your trustee to pay money directly to your guardian if there is a need for the guardian to change their living environment to accommodate your children. It is quite possible that your guardian will require other financial assistance whether directly or indirectly, to allow them to look after your children in the manner you wish.

We recommended that your will includes a letter to your trustee, outlining how you would like them to use the money for your children’s benefit. The relationship between your chosen trustees, guardians and your children is extremely important and often ignored.

Cross it off your to-do list

No matter how much your estate is worth, your children are priceless and their future needs protecting. Writing a will is the single most important thing you can do, so cross it off your to-do list today.

Can you afford not to have a future plan in place? Call 0800 088 4670 to speak to the will experts at Damsons Future Planning!

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