Will Writing for New Parents
Here is our advice for parents on planning for the future once they have children.
Having a baby is one of the most wonderful, exciting and frightening times in your life, so you can’t be blamed for not thinking about writing a will.
However, will writing for new parents should be top of the list of things to do to ensure that your new family are protected should anything happen.
With a new baby to look after, making a will is potentially the single most important thing new parents can do to ensure your child is cared for should you die.
In this guide, we give parents advice and guidance surrounding why you should make a will, what happens if you don’t, and what you should include within the will to ensure all of your wishes are carried out.
Why should new parents make a will?
A will is a legal document that specifies exactly who will inherit your assets such as money, property, jewellery and cars. You can appoint executors and trustees to administer your estate and ensure your estate is shared the way you intended it to be.
It can also determine who will be your child’s guardian, should you die before they become legal adults. As soon as a child is born, parents should create, or update, their will to appoint a guardian who will make sure the child is looked after should both parents pass away before your child is 18.
If you already have children and a new child is born, you will need to reassess how you want your assets distributed. It may well be you want your wealth divided evenly between all children, in which case a new will may need to be written.
What happens to my family if I die without a will?
If you die without a will, you will not only be put your family through unnecessary stress, but they may also miss out on any inheritance.
Dying without a will means strict inheritance laws determine who is entitled to what. These are the intestacy rules, and they do not account for the modern family.
The rules of intestacy follow a hierarchy of who should benefit from your estate, and it is not always what you may wish for.
The order of intestacy is as follows:
- Spouse or civil partner
- Brothers and sisters
- Uncles and aunts
No two families are the same, and you may not wish your assets to be distributed this way. The court will decide how to apply these rules to your estate, leaving your family’s fate in the hands of the court.
If both parents were to pass away without a will, your children’s guardianship may be decided by a local authority or court.
In addition to this, unmarried partners (sometimes incorrectly called “common-law” partners) do not inherit any of the estate if their partner dies. This also applies to step-children and foster children.
What do I need to include in my will for my children?
It is clear to see that will writing for new parents is vitally important. But what exactly do parents need to include in a will to make it suitable for their children? Here are seven things you need to think about in your will:
1. Appoint a guardian for your children
If both parents die, a guardian will take over responsibility for the child. They will have a duty to ensure the child is looked after and cared for.
You will need to think long and hard about who you want as your child’s guardian. If you do not choose a guardian, local authorities are responsible for deciding who looks after your child. This is often immediate family.
Appointing two or more guardians ensures that your children will be cared for, should one of the guardians die or be unavailable to carry out their duties.
You will need to discuss the role with any individuals you are thinking about appointing beforehand.
Guardianship of a child automatically ends when the child reaches 18.
2. Plan for your child’s finances
A parent’s will should include how you wish to divide your finances between your partner, your children and any step-children.
You will need to balance all of the competing needs of all of your family after your death.
In addition, if you wish step-children and foster children to inherit from your estate, ensure they are included in the will. They will not automatically inherit your assets.
3. Appoint trustees for your child’s inheritance
If you die before your child is 18, the assets left to them will need to be held in trust. A nominated trusted person will manage this trust, known as a trustee. It is usual to appoint at least two trustees.
You will need to determine who this trustee is. They will be safeguarding your children’s assets and inheritance, and will be in control of our child’s finances until they reach 18.
4. Determine the age of inheritance for your child
Within your will, you will need to determine at what age you want your child to be when they receive control of their inheritance.
If this is not stated, they will automatically receive access to their assets when they reach 18.
Before 18, any inheritance will be managed by a trustee(s) of the estate. The child can still benefit from the inheritance, but not without the trustee’s consent, and ordinarily it will be used for education and maintenance.
Many consider 18 to be too young to inherit a lump sum of money. If you wish, you can set this age higher, or put conditions on their access.
5. Consider trusts, pensions and insurance
Insurance policies, pension schemes and other assets that are held in trusts are not automatically passed down within your will. You will need to contact each provider and nominate your children as your beneficiaries if you would like them to inherit these.
Also consider the fallout of these types of assets. If, for example, your partner receives a lump sum from a life insurance policy after your death, they may not need a large legacy from your will too.
You may be able to leave more assets to your children if other family members are benefitting from this sort of asset.
6. Consider forgotten assets
Many parents will remember the tangible assets when writing a will. Things like a car, the house, a watch. Very often, however, parents will forget about important assets that aren’t tangible.
Make sure you remember all online bank accounts, premium bonds and shares, while also paying attention to sentimental things like family heirlooms, digital photo collections, social media accounts and other online accounts
You can view a list of 14 common mistakes when writing a will here, which includes forgetting key assets.
7. Schedule a review
Many parents will write their will and then simply forget about it. However, circumstances change, and it is vitally important your will is kept up to date.
A wedding, the death of a loved, the birth of a new child – all of these can render your will out of date.
Read our piece on how different life evets can change the contents of a will, and why you need to schedule a review at least every five years.
How can Percy Hughes & Roberts help?
At Percy Hughes & Roberts, we understand that life as a parent can be hectic, exciting, rewarding and tiring all at once. We have been helping parents write their will and safeguard their children for one hundred years.
We have a team of expert will writing solicitors who are ready to help you start writing your will. Will writing for new parents is something which we can do for you as quickly and effectively as possible.
We can also help resolve any other query or issue relating to wills, trusts and probate.
If you need assistance with writing a will, making a change to a will, or simply want general advice, our Wirral Wills and Probate solicitors have a wealth of experience.
Contact Percy Hughes & Roberts
To speak to a wills and probate solicitor for advice, contact Percy Hughes & Roberts for a no-obligation phone consultation today. We provide ourselves on offering expert advice that's easy to understand, and we will be with you through every step of the legal process.