At Solomons Solicitors, our team understands that there is nothing more important than safeguarding your children. That is why parents and stepparents should make Wills to protect their family. Contact our team today to find out how we can help you.
Why do you need a Will if you have children under the age of 18
A parent needs a Will if they have children under the age of 18 to:
- make financial provisions for the children
- appoint a testamentary guardian to look after the children
Without a Will, the children may or may not inherit a share of the estate, depending on the intestacy rules and the personal and financial circumstances of the parent. Stepchildren will not inherit anything from a stepparent’s estate under intestacy rules.
Appointing a legal guardian in your Will
A parent can appoint a legal guardian (also called a testamentary guardian) in their Will to care for their children if they die while their child is under 18.
The appointment of the legal guardian will only take effect if there is no one else alive who has parental responsibility for the child. The appointment will normally only come into effect if the second parent has already passed away.
Looking after a child is a big task, so parents need to carefully consider:
- their choice of legal guardian,
- if the proposed guardian is willing to take on the responsibility,
- if it would be in the best interests of the child for the proposed guardian to do so
For example, a parent might be inclined to appoint their own parents as legal guardians, but because of age and health considerations, the appointment of a sibling as legal guardian may be the best choice.
Gifts to children in your Will
If a parent leaves a gift to their child in their Will the parent can decide if the child should get the legacy outright and at what age or if the estate should be placed in a discretionary trust with the child as a named beneficiary. The trustee can then exercise their discretion to decide whether and when to release funds to the child. For example, a trustee could agree to pay university fees or provide a house deposit but refuse to release the money to buy a motorbike.
Making a Will gives greater protection to a child as if a child inherits money under intestacy rules, they will automatically get the legacy at age 18.
Stepchildren and Wills
If a parent has stepchildren, it is particularly important to make a Will if the stepparent wants to leave their estate or a legacy to their stepchild. That is because stepchildren will not get a legacy under intestacy rules.
Does your existing Will protect your children?
Will solicitors recommend that parents review their Wills to ensure that the Will reflects current personal and financial circumstances and still protects their children. For example, if a parent has formed a new relationship and now has stepchildren that they would like to include in their Will. Alternatively, if a child is not very mature for their age, a parent may want their Will to say that a legacy will not be released until the child reaches the age of 21 or 25.
Speak to our Bournemouth-based Wills Lawyers today
Solomons Solicitors can help with the preparation of your Will to protect your children or can review your existing Will to see if changes should be made. For a free initial consultation, call us today on 01202 802807 or use our online enquiry form.