5 Reasons New Parents Need a Will

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Making a will might be the last thing on your mind as you adapt to your busy new life as a parent, but it's part of your responsibility to your children.

As many as 60% of people don't have wills, by some estimates. If you die without one, your estate will be distributed according to strict rules, meaning the people you care about may lose out and your wishes may not be followed.

To Name Your Children’s Guardian

When writing a will, you don't just decide how your estate is divided up. You also have a say as to who should look after your dependents. If they're under 18, you can also appoint their legal guardians.

If you don't, the decision could be left to the family courts, who may choose a person you wouldn't agree with. Anyone who already has parental responsibility does not need to be appointed, but it is important to note that their right will trump anyone you appoint as a guardian. 

Most people nominate more than one guardian, or at least a substitute guardian in case the first is unwilling or unable to take the role. It is really important to discuss this with the people you choose before naming them.

Choosing a godparent is not the same as choosing a guardian, as godparents have no legal rights. If you wish the godparents to look after your children if you die, you must name them as guardians in your will.

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Ensure Your Children are Provided for Financially

As well as saying who will raise your children, you can make plans to provide for their future financially. This might include putting aside money for their education, making sure they receive a set amount each year for clothing or hobbies, or establishing a nest egg to buy a home.

You may wish to consider setting up a trust to provide for your children, as this gives you an element of control over when your children receive the money, and what it gets used for.

Find out more: our guide to wills trusts

Appoint Trustees for Your Child's Inheritance

If you die before the age your children can inherit, their assets will need to be held in trust. If you have a will this is usually established automatically, and the executors would usually be the trustees.

To manage that trust, you need to nominate trusted persons, known as the trustees. There should usually be two trustees at any one time.

Think carefully about how they would safeguard your children's assets and help plan for their future. The trustees are essentially in control of your children's finances. Generally, choosing one trustee is a bad idea. It can incur legal complications and there's a risk that person may not be around, in which case there are rules that dictate who would be appointed. The rules give precedence to family relations, and there's a chance that the person who is chosen may not be who you would prefer.

Provide For Your Step-Children and Other Dependents

If you have step-children, they will not automatically inherit from your estate unless you specifically include them in your will. So consider making arrangements in your will to meet their financial needs.

This may also be the case for other children you care for - such as foster children - as well as any dependent adults that rely upon you.

Be careful as to how you refer to “step-children” in your will. If you simply refer to “children” they would not be included, so it might be best to name all children and step-children individually to avoid uncertainty.

Protect Your Partner if You’re Unmarried

In England and Wales, unmarried partners aren't entitled to anything from your estate unless specifically stated in your will - no matter how long you've been together. There is no such thing as a ‘common law spouse’ - this is a myth.

Writing a will ensures your partner will receive their fair share of your estate.

Remember, a will is a legally binding document - but if you don’t prepare it properly, it may not be valid

You are free to write your will yourself, but if you have a complicated estate, or simply want help, you can enlist the support of a solicitor or expert will-writer.

If you want support, you can make your will and have it reviewed by Which?. Our easy to use service is full of guidance and support, as a Your Baby Club member, you can also get a 20% discount on all our wills using the link provided.

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