World Children’s Day: Protecting My Children For The Future
20 November is World Children’s Day, traditionally celebrated each year to promote international togetherness, awareness among children worldwide, and improving children’s welfare. It highlights the responsibilities we, as adults, bear towards the next generation. Parents are particularly conscious of this responsibility, yet whilst we juggle our daily commitments, planning for the future can get overlooked. Writing a Will is another job amongst many, but it is only one job, and takes care of a multitude of uncertainties about your family’s future.
Longmores can help you navigate through the decisions that will ensure your children are protected should the worst happen.
How can I protect my children in a Will?
A Will can deal with the following:
- Appointing a guardian for your childrenWhilst there is someone with parental responsibility alive, they will have care of their children, but if both parents have died, a guardian appointed in your Will can act in your place.You will need to consider carefully who will be an appropriate and practical fit with your children and who can work with your trustees to provide information about the children’s needs. It is not always easy to balance these considerations and we can provide an experienced and impartial sounding board.
The appointment ends at 18, but if circumstances require, you can express a wish that you would like the guardians to carry on looking out for your children after that age.
- Providing money for your childrenWe can help you consider which arrangements will best protect funds for the benefit of your children. The default age of inheritance is 18. Up to then, your children can benefit from the money, but they will not have control themselves. Instead, it is held on their behalf by their ‘trustees’, according to the instructions which you put in your Will (a ‘trust’).We can advise you on who should act as trustees, and how they hold the money for your children. They might hold it until the children become entitled at a specific age, or under the terms of another type of trust which offers more flexibility. Flexibility might be required because of specific family circumstances, for example, a child with learning difficulties, or because of your specific financial situation, such as a need to mitigate Inheritance Tax.
- Deciding the age at which your children will inheritIf you are unsure when your children should inherit, we can advise. We can ensure that, if required, your trustees can later move forward the age at which your children inherit, although the age cannot be delayed.
- Ensuring your children inherit specific itemsYou can ensure your children inherit important personal belongings by specifically naming them in your Will. We can advise you on the terms of the gift if flexibility is required in dividing items between siblings.We will also discuss with you if there are any other products such as life insurance or pensions which will need to be nominated in favour of your spouse or children in addition to your Will provisions.
What happens if I don’t make a Will?
If you fail to make a Will, there are two areas in which your family’s life may be affected on death:
- Finances – Your spouse or civil partner will not automatically inherit everything. Cohabitees or partners and ex-spouses or ex-civil partners will not inherit anything automatically. They would need to bring a claim against the estate for not being adequately provided for. Children will only inherit if the estate is worth more than a certain amount, and if they do, you cannot control when or how they receive their inheritance.
- Care of your children – If both parents have died, then the Courts or Local Authority may decide who looks after them without any guidance being provided by you.
How can I make a Will?
Please telephone the office to get a copy of our Will Questionnaire to complete and return. You will then have the opportunity to discuss your requirements in full with a solicitor over a telephone or video call. A face-to-face appointment, if required, can be arranged after our offices have re-opened.
Professional legal advice should always be taken when preparing a Will, as an invalid Will results in the same rules applying as if you had not prepared a Will at all.
Here to Help
If you want to make a Will, or discuss any other private matter, please get in touch with Victoria Wood, Associate Solicitor in the Older and Vulnerable Client Team.
Please note the contents of this blog are given for information only and must not be relied upon. Legal advice should always be sought in relation to specific circumstances.