It’s something I think about quite regularly, but never get as far as actually doing anything about. I know I must, I know I am a Bad Parent for not having plans in place, but it feels like a bit of a scary thing to do. Firstly it means acknowledging that I’m not actually immortal (whaaat??!), but also it’s dead complicated. Or feels it at least.
To try and inspire me, and to give a bit of a shove to other parents who haven’t got round to it yet, I asked Rebekah Hillman of Hillman Legal Partnerships to put together a few of the basics for me, so it didn’t seem so scary. Here’s what she said…
Writing a will – the parent’s factsheet
As a young parent writing a will is probably not that high on your agenda. In fact, you probably think it’s the kind of thing your own parents should be worrying about, not you. However, a good will does more than simply divide up the family silver. And when it comes to children, they happen to be a pretty essential part of the parental toolkit.
But before you rush off to write one, make sure that you fully understand what to include. There are a number of important things that a Will can do, and you need to make sure of them before you begin:
If the worst happens – who is going to have a say in raising your children? Your will is actually the only place where you can express this and ensure that it will be considered legally. If you have not expressed a preference for guardianship, in your will, you’re basically handing over that decision to the courts, and they might not have the same opinions as you.
These are really important if you and your partner own property or businesses together. You can insert a trust into your will to make sure that if you or your partner dies, that half of the estate is placed in a trust for your children.
This prevents the scenario where your partner remarries and then dies without a will, thus the entire estate passes – legally – into the hands of the new spouse.
What age do you want them to inherit?
This is another area where trusts do wonders. Legally, if there is no will, your children will inherit everything at 18. Let’s be honest, what would you have done with a large sum of money on your 18th birthday?
A trust will give you control. Maybe you want your child to receive some money on their 18th, with perhaps the bulk of it coming later, once they’ve had the chance to mature a little more.
How do you make a will?
Making a basic will is pretty easy. There are even forms available off-the-shelf, in places like WH Smith.
However, when it comes to guardianship and trusts, these need to be created professionally by either a will writer or Solicitor. They can also store the will, so you don’t have to worry about it getting lost or damaged over the years.
Rebekah Hillman lives in Crouch End, London. She is the mother of a teenage daughter, Bryony, and the owner of Hillman Legal Partnerships, a Wills & Probate firm based in London N8. This isn’t a sponsored post, I just genuinely thought it might be useful. That said, perhaps if I ask nicely Rebekah might help me make a will by way of a thank you…
Thanks for this very ‘reponsible’ post Jo – I feel like a proper grown-up parent just reading it!
Anyway, I was wondering though, how much does it cost to have a will drawn up if issues such as guardianship involved and therefore should be written by a solicitor?
I don’t have a red bean, but I am worried about who will have ‘parental responsibility’ for my little boy in the event my death and in the absence of other relatives. Should I be drawing up a mental list of potential persons and how do you go about asking someone to consider this responsibility?
I find myself getting so anxious even thinking about this area, even though I know it’s just part of the circle-of-life.
Thanks for writing this, and for all the advice. It isn’t something I’ve got round to doing yet, but I think you’re write, and it’s a good idea to plan ahead for the sake of those you’re leaving behind.
I’ll raise “making a will” a little higher on my To Do list!