If you have a child or children, either as a single parent or married couple, it is so important to write a last will and testament as soon as possible to ensure their future is protected and they will receive the inheritance you want them to in the event of your death.
Without a will, your children may not stand to receive much inheritance at all, if any, as all your assets will be distributed according to the UK’s rules of intestacy, which may not be in line with your personal final wishes.
Below, we explain 5 reasons why each and every single parent in the UK must have a will and why you must keep it up-to-date throughout your lifetime.
Have you ever thought about what would happen to your child or children if you, or you and your partner, were to suddenly pass away? Who would take care of them and give them the upbringing that you want them to have?
If you don’t have a will and your children were suddenly left without parents, your local authorities would be left to make the decision as to who will take care of them, and who knows who this may be. In most cases, they will try to ensure that any immediate family will take care of them, but this isn’t 100% guaranteed.
With a will, however, you can appoint guardianship to someone you know you can trust to take care of your children in the event of your death (if you are a single parent) or you and your partner's death.
It’s always a good idea to appoint more than one guardian, in case something happens to your first guardian, and be sure to speak with your chosen guardians to ensure that they are happy to take on this role in the event of your death.
Remember: If your child has Godparents, this does not give them the legal right to take guardianship - you must clarify this in a will.
Dealing with an estate after someone has died can be a very complicated, time-consuming and upsetting process, so if you don’t want your children to have to go through this then writing a will that clearly explains all your wishes will be the best thing to do for them.
In your will, you can explain things such as:
Your funeral requests
Where you’d like to be buried or have your ashes scattered
How you want your estate to be shared out
And much more.
Your children shouldn’t be left with the huge responsibility of trying to predict what you would have wanted for your send-off, and a will can make things so much easier for them when the time comes; it’s already going to be a very upsetting time for your loved ones and it will be a difficult thing to have to come to terms with.
If you want your child or children to each receive a certain amount of inheritance from your estate, it’s essential that you explain this clearly in your will, because if you don’t make one, your assets will be shared out in line with the rules of intestacy.
Dying intestate would mean that your spouse will receive the initial £270,000 of your estate, then anything remaining over that value would be shared out between your spouse and children, so they may not end up with much inheritance at all.
In your will, you can state exactly what each child will get and when they will get it, so it’s a way of ensuring everyone in your family receives a fair share and there won’t be any disputes, arguments or distress when you pass away.
You may also wish to leave your children gifts in the form of family heirlooms or valuable items - make sure you state exactly who these are to be passed onto so they don’t get disregarded and potentially sold to cover inheritance tax later on.
If a parent has step-children, it’s important to know that they will not automatically get any inheritance from your assets if you do not have a will, as your estate will be shared out in line with the intestacy rules and step children are not included in this.
If you want your step-children to receive a certain item or amount of money, you must include them in a legally-binding will and clearly state what it is they stand to inherit.
Similarly, if you care for anyone else , such as foster children or adults that depend on you, you must also include them in your will if you want them to inherit something.
If you want your child or children to receive control over their inheritance at a particular age, you can make this clear in your will, but the assets will have to be held in a trust and managed by a trustee (a person you trust).
You need to think very carefully about who you want your trustee to be, as they will be in charge of protecting your children’s inheritance and giving them consent to withdraw the money or receive the asset. Some parents may appoint their partner as a trustee with another two trustees (or substitute trustees) to be extra careful.
Similarly to appointing a guardian for your children, you must be sure to speak with the person or people you wish to appoint as trustees, just to make sure they are happy to take this role on when the time comes.
If you are a parent and you do not have a will in place, you cannot be sure how your children’s future will turn out in the event of your passing.
The best way to plan ahead and ensure they’re fully protected, both financially and in terms of their welfare, is to write a legally-valid will, which you can start online today with us at Wills.Services. You can save your progress along the way and come back to it when you have the time to do some more - you don’t need to get it all done at once.
Once you have completed writing your will, it will be reviewed by one of our will-writing professionals to make sure it is legally-binding and that there won’t be any problems when the time comes.