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Only 13% of people aged 24-35 have a Will in place. This in itself is not a particularly eyebrow raising statistic, when you’re busy building your life it’s understandable that planning for the end of it might not be high on your list of priorities.

But when you consider that the average age of first time mothers in the UK is just 28 years of age (with men slightly ahead at 32) this shows there is a significant number of young families without a Will in place.

Tragic accidents and illnesses can strike anybody at any time, making sure you have a valid Will is a vital step in protecting your family’s future…

Choosing a guardian for you child

Without a Will, if one parent passes away the other will have full parental responsibility. But if both parents should pass away before the child is 18, the courts will select a guardian on your behalf.

This will be an objective decision for the Court and your children may well end up with someone you wouldn’t have chosen yourself. Your child may even end up in foster care until a suitable guardian is selected.

A Will allows you to select guardian to raise your child in your absence. This is particularly valuable if you are a single parent or have a complicated family situation (divorced, remarried etc…)

When choosing a guardian, it is important to take a step back and assess who would be the best available. We recommend considering the following…

  • What is their parental experience? Do they hold similar values/ beliefs to you?
  • Are they financially viable in the long term? Do they have a stable home?
  • What is their relationship with my child like? Are they in a position to accept the long term responsibility?
  • How old are they? What is their current health situation?

Through a Will, you will also have the opportunity to advise the chosen guardian on various decisions involving your child through a ‘letter of wishes’.

Letter of Wishes

A Letter of Wishes is an optional document that can accompany your Will for many reasons. A letter of wishes is not a legally binding document and is there to provide guidance to your executors/ guardians. Therefore it is imperative to choose people you trust to carry out your requests.

With regard to your children, you can complete a letter of wishes to your guardians allowing you to express your wishes on how you would like your child to be raised including thoughts from education, to religion, to their living situation. It is a very personal letter and we would suggest that you include as much detail as you can so that your guardian has thorough guidance from you.

Securing your child’s financial security

When you pass away, your children will not inherit until they are 18. The monies that they will inherit at 18 will be managed by the Trustees of your Will. This creates a concern for parents that children inherit at too young an age.

If you have a Will you can extend the age of inheritance, most usually 21 or 25. Again, if your child is too young to handle their own finances when you pass away the monies will be managed by the Trustees of your Will.

A Trustee is a party of your choosing who has responsibility for looking after your assets. They will manage and maintain your funds for the benefit of your beneficiaries. Your Trustee is often your Executor.

Many people chose to make the chosen guardian for their children a trustee as well, as they will be financially responsible for them until they turn 18 anyway.

In my experience, in more complicated situations it can be a good idea to consider an additional trustee who is separate and independent from the family, such as a solicitor or other professional. They can provide objectivity and a neutral opinion should any conflict of interest occur.

If you have family, you need a will. At Gorvins we have a highly experienced team of experts in all Wills Trusts and Probate Matters. Call our Wills team today on 0343 507 5151 or e-mail willsteam@gorvins.com

For steps on how to make a will when you have children, please click here