It’s easy to keep finding excuses to put off writing your will. With around 30 million adults in the UK not having a valid will in place, you’re certainly not alone if you haven’t gotten round to writing yours yet.
There are lots of very good reasons to have a will in place, particularly when you have children of any age. Keep reading to discover 5 reasons why your kids need you to write a will:
1. You can appoint legal guardians for your children
You can appoint guardians to act for your children in the event that you die before the child reaches the age of 16.
Above the age of 16 it is not possible to appoint a guardian to children as they are deemed to have legal capacity at that age.
A guardian appointed by you in a will assumes the same parental rights and responsibilities that the parent had – so they will, for instance, be responsible for the child’s health, welfare and wellbeing and will also have the right to make decisions for the child, such as living and schooling arrangements.
When you appoint a guardian in your will and if you die before the child reaches the age of 16, the guardian has to accept the role of guardian, it is not automatically forced upon them.
If you do decide to nominate a guardian in your will, you should discuss this carefully with your chosen guardian to ensure that that person will be willing and able to act.
One parent and one guardian
If there is one surviving natural parent and one guardian appointed to the child, then you and the guardian will share parental rights and responsibilities in the same way that two parents would.
This means that if there is an estranged parent in the child’s life who then decides they want contact with their child, the guardian will be able to try and reach an agreement with the other parent regarding contact or shared residence or will be able to enter court proceedings to decide this.
Estranged parent and no guardian
If there is an estranged parent and no guardian appointed then the estranged parent will have the sole rights and responsibilities for the child and will then decide how and where the child is raised.
If both parents die before a child reaches the age of 16 then there will be no one with parental rights and responsibilities and the child will either have to enter the foster/adoption system or a friend or relative could apply to the court for court appointed parental rights and responsibilities.
Writing a will gives you the choice. If you appoint a guardian for your children, then you have made the decision on who you’d like to have responsibility for them rather than a court making that decision.
2. You can put your assets in a trust for your children
If you’re leavings assets to your children in terms of your will, you can put them into trust for the children until they reach a particular age. If no age is specified, then the children would inherit at 16, which most people think is quite young to inherit money.
Writing a will means you can choose what age your children would inherit your assets. Common ages for trust funds are 18, 21 and 25.
With a trust, you can nominate trustees to manage the trust funds and make decisions about how and when the trust funds are used for the child’s benefit.
The trust fund can be used for the maintenance, education and benefit of the child until they reach the specified age and, when they reach that age, the balance remaining in the trust fund will be handed over to them directly.
For example, your estate could be put into a trust for a child until the child reaches the age of 25, but when the child reaches university age and decides they want to go to university, the trustees could:
- Decide to pay them a monthly allowance to assist them with living costs
- Could purchase property for the child to be used while they are at university
- Advance money from the trust to the child for the child to use as they see fit towards their education
A trust essentially protects the beneficiary from their own vulnerability or inability to manage money at a young age.
3. Using your will to appoint executors
With a will, you can decide who will act as executors for your estate. You could decide to appoint one or more of your children if they are over a particular age.
If you don’t nominate any executors or don’t have a will and you die while the child is over 16 but still quite young, perhaps 17 or 18, that child might find themselves acting as executor and that can be an onerous responsibility.
Writing a will puts you in control. You can decide who acts as executor, but if you die without a will (intestacy), only someone entitled to inherit the estate can be appointed by the court as an executor.
4. You can choose how assets are divided amongst your children
You shouldn’t assume that your children will be happy with how your assets get divided after your passing. There have been many high profile cases where siblings have had long and bitter battles over their parents’ assets.
For instance, if one child has always been promised a particular item, such as a wedding or engagement ring, but that instruction is not included in your will, then the surviving children might fight over who is to get the engagement ring and ultimately that will be up to the executor to decide.
This could leave the child that has been promised the ring feeling that they have lost out on an item that they always believed they would inherit. If you know which specific items you’d like to leave to your children, then it makes sense to formalise these in your will.
5. To make things as easy as possible for them when you’re no longer around
If you’ve ever lost a parent, you’ll know how traumatic things can be in the days, weeks, months and years afterwards.
The reality is that none of us know when our time will be up. By not having a will in place, you could be making things so much harder for your children at a time when they’re lives are already in turmoil with grief and trying to cope with the fact you’re no longer around.
Let’s take a quick look at those 5 reasons why your kids need you to write a will again:
- You can decide who you want to look after them
- You can choose when they get their inheritance
- You can appoint executors for your estate
- You can divide up your assets to avoid disputes
- You can make their lives easier after you’ve gone
We understand that thinking about dying isn’t pleasant. Don’t be one of the people who die in Scotland each year without a will on place.
Contact me below now to discuss writing your will, because your kids will thank you for it when the time comes.