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How can making a Will help to protect my children?

View profile for Leah Vincent
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If you have children, we understand that life is busy and making a Will might not be on your mind. But once you fully understand what a Will can do to protect your children, making a Will should move to the top of your to-do-list.

It is common for parents to worry about what will happen to their children in the unlikely event of them both passing away whilst their children are still minors (under the age of 18).

One of the most important reasons to make a Will if you have children is so that you can appoint guardians to take care of them after you have gone. Having a say over who will take care of your children can enable you to feel more at ease about their future.

If no formal appointment is made, a guardian may be appointed by the Court, but that may not be the person you would have preferred.

However, the appointment of guardians can be a difficult and emotional decision for some, as a guardian will be given parental responsibility. In other words, they will be responsible for all major decisions about your children and their welfare, including living arrangements, education and medical treatment. It is therefore important that you give it careful thought and review your decision from time to time to make sure it is still right.

There are a number of factors that you might need to consider in order to appoint a suitable guardian, such as:

  • Do they have views and beliefs that you would be comfortable with if they were to raise your children?
  • Would your children need to relocate to a different part of the UK to live with their guardian?
  • Do you trust them to have your children’s best interests at heart?

It is sensible that you communicate your wishes with the proposed guardians in advance to ensure that they are willing and able to take on the role and they understand what might be involved.

In order to try and prevent any difficulties, we recommend that parents appoint the same guardians (even if they are not still together) and perhaps make a Letter of Wishes explaining their choice of guardians as well as giving guidance on how they would like their children to be looked after. The Letter of Wishes can then be stored with your Will for your guardians to refer to should they need to act in the future.

It can also be sensible to name a guardian as a trustee of the estate so that they also have responsibility for managing the estate and covering the child’s needs.

Please contact a member of our Private Client Department on 01242 574 244 if you would like some advice or assistance on preparing your Will.